John Downs (nicknamed “Downsy”), was a beloved psychology professor at Carroll who died from leukemia in 2002. In 2004, a proclamation was signed at Carroll College making John’s birthday, April 15th, "Downsy Day" on campus, a day when members of the Carroll community are encouraged to perform unselfish acts of service, kindness, compassion, patience, generosity and love according to their own inspiration.
For our annual Kindness Day on campus, the living memorial to a true Carroll Saint, here is the story of John's paper cranes which have been flying back into our community this year.
Almost 20 years ago in the fall of 2001, shortly after the terrible events of 9/11 and John’s diagnosis of leukemia, the campus community in an outpouring of love and support, folded 1,000 cranes in less than two days as a prayer for healing.
After John’s death, his wife Barb passed the cranes back to me and they have rested in storage all these years until last fall when we began delivering meals to quarantined students and I heard John whispering that it was time for the great love generated in these cranes’ creation to flow back into the community from which they first took flight. I think that John would be pleased that his cranes are flying again and lifting the spirits of those who may have been feeling lonely, afraid, and overwhelmed during this time. It has been a joy to touch each crane again with a few freshening tweaks and folds and write some inspiring words on their wings.
There are still about 150 cranes remaining and if any faculty, staff, or students would like one, please let me know. A special invitation goes to those Carroll alumni who remember John Downs to request a crane – please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and include your mailing address. – Terri John (Carroll College Nursing Department)