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Wentworth Presenting Honorary Bachelor’s Degrees to Six Members of One Family

April 10, 2017

The Downings, left to right: Lester, Class of 1916; Judson, Class of 1940; Richard, 1949; Philip, 1949; and Jonathan, 1965, the surviving member of the family of Wentworth graduates. Not shown is Edward, Class of 1914. Photo c. 1965, courtesy of Jonathan Downing.

BOSTON, Mass. – Wentworth plans to award honorary bachelor’s degrees to six members of one New Hampshire family—five of them posthumously.

The members of the Downing family graduated from the Institute between 1914 and 1965.

The surviving Wentworth graduate from the group, Jonathan Downing, 72, will pick up his honorary degree on campus April 21, when the Institute plans to bestow degrees posthumously to the others, including Jonathan Downing’s great-uncle, Edward, Wentworth Class of 1914; his grandfather, Lester, Class of 1916; his father, Judson, Class of ’40; and his uncles, Richard and Philip Downing, both from the Class of ’49.

The men attended the institute before it offered bachelor’s and master’s degrees, when graduates earned only certificates and two-year degrees.

“It’s remarkable,” said President Zorica Pantic. “We’re talking about six family members who graduated from the institute, beginning more than a century ago.

“We want to honor the family for that achievement.”

A retired architect, Jonathan Downing said the men were all military veterans who worked as engineers and mechanics. Jonathan graduated from Wentworth in 1965 with a degree in architectural engineering technology.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this story to be told,” he said.

The Downings grew up in Alton Bay, NH, on Lake Winnipesaukee, where their family members live today.

The children and spouses of Jonathan, Richard, and Philip Downing plan to attend the Legacy Luncheon at Wentworth where the honorary bachelor’s degrees will be presented. Richard Downing’s daughter, Beth Cipriano, and her husband, Joseph Cipriano, who is also a Wentworth graduate, will accept the honorary degree for him.

Philip Downing’s son, Charles, and his wife, Bonnie, plan to accept Philip’s degree, and Jonathan Downing will accept his father Judson’s degree. Nancy Downing Merrill will accept degrees on behalf of her father and uncle, Lester and Edward Downing.

The Downings’ honorary degrees will be presented the day before Wentworth holds its 2017 spring commencement.

—Dennis Nealon

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