Helen Florence Martsfield Down, 89, died in Astoria, Oregon, July 11, 2013. She was the fifth of 10 children born to Christian James and Sarah Florence Gamble Martsfield September 15, 1923, in Phillip, South Dakota.

She moved to Salem in 1935 and attended Salem schools, graduating from Sacred Heart Academy in 1940.

She married Alfred Down Jr., May 9, 1944. They lived first in Salem and then in Valsetz from 1946 to 1965. While in Valsetz she worked as a secretary for Boise Cascade and was a reporter for the Dallas Itemizer Observer and the Statesman Journal. She started and was editor of The Mountain Echo, a local paper for Valsetz. She was chairperson for the PTA, led Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Campfire Girls and 4-H clubs in which her children were involved. She was also instrumental in the founding of Our Lady of the Woods Catholic Church.

Helen returned to Salem in 1965 and for the next 20 years was office manager for the State Printing Division. She retired in 1985 and then began volunteering many hours to visiting the sick through her membership in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and the Marion County Hospice.

With declining health, she and her husband moved to Mt. Angel Towers in 2005 and three years later moved to Clatsop Retirement Village in Astoria, Oregon. There, they made many friends and enjoyed watching the Eagles fly over Young’s Bay.

Helen was predeceased by her husband, Alfred (Bud) Down; brothers Paul, Gene and Ray; sisters Genevieve, Irene Otjen and Vivian Lambertus; and sons Major Robert Down and Alan Down.

She is survived by sisters Joanne Kersey of Corvallis and Rosemay Shultz of Oregon City and brother James Martsfield of Salem; children Anita Schacher of Astoria, Christine (Rod) Claar of Renton, Washington, and Dennis (Ellen) Down of Eugene, Oregon; 14 grandchildren; Robert Down, Michael, Mark, Henry Schacher, Melinda Anderson, Kim Davis, Kevin Robertson, Laura Rice, Jennifer Pederson, Vicia Adamson, Alan, Tristan, Alison and James Down; 15 great-grandchildren; Joseph and Sarah Pedersen, Justin, Dakota, Rosemary, Bernadette and Martinian Adamson, Aimee, Ashley, Megan, Sam, Paul, Cooper, Annaliese Schacher and Cameron Blecha. She is also survived by several, much-loved nieces and nephews.

Viewing with be at Caldwell’s Luce-Layton Mortuary Thursday, July 18, 2013 from 1-4 p.m. 

Viewing will be July 19, 2013, at 9 to 9:45 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 721 Chemeketa St. N.E. Salem, Oregon, with a Funeral Mass to follow at 10 a.m. A reception will follow at the Church.

Graveside Services will be held at City View Cemetery, Salem, Oregon at 1:00 p.m.  

A Memorial Service will be held at Clatsop Retirement Village at a later date.

Donations may be made to Clatsop Cares Foundation.

Caldwell’s Luce-Layton Mortuary is in charge of arrangements. Please sign our online guest book at: www.caldwellsmortuary.com


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