Obituary : Constance D. Leonard
Constance Downs Leonard, 98, of Vineyard Haven, died at her home on April 11, surrounded by her family. She was a life-long resident of Martha's Vineyard having been born at the family home on the corner of Church and William Street in Vineyard Haven. Her parents were Howard D. Downs and Elizabeth Jones Downs. She was the oldest of three children. Her brother Donald and her sister Jane predeceased her.
Constance (always called Connie by those who knew her) was educated in the Tisbury School system and Northfield School for Girls. She also studied arts and crafts at Miss Houston's School of Handicrafts in Harvard Square. It was in the fifth grade of Tisbury School that she met her future husband, Alpha Freeman Leonard Jr.
While attending school in Boston, Connie applied for and was accepted as a teacher of arts and crafts at a school in Tallulah Falls, Ga. The school was funded by the Georgia Federation of Women's Clubs and was established for the poor mountain children in that region. Unfortunately, her tenure was cut short by the onset of the depression and Connie was forced to return home. That period in Georgia, though short, was something she never forgot. She kept in touch with some of her students and teachers for many years, and loved reminiscing about her experiences in that small town in the mountains of northern Georgia, so far removed from the shores of Martha's Vineyard.
Upon returning to Martha's Vineyard, Connie and Freeman married. They were both fortunate to have jobs during the depression. Connie worked for the Vineyard Haven Library as librarian and Freemen worked for R. M. Packer. When their first child, Cynthia, was born, Connie became an "at home" mother, not returning to work for 17 years. During that time she was very active in volunteer work. As a life-long member of the First Baptist Church of Vineyard Haven, she held many offices in the church. During World War II she was active in the Red Cross and the USO. She was a member of the Girl Scout Council, the Tisbury School Lunchroom Committee (responsible for establishing the first hot lunch school program on Martha's Vineyard), the Vineyard Haven Library Committee, and the Martha's Vineyard Camera Club.
With her children leaving home for college and military school, Connie went to work for Dr. Charles Sprague for a short time. But with such a love and knowledge of photography, she soon took a position with Mosher's Photo Service and stayed there until her retirement, approximately 25 years.