It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Virginia Dowden, a past president of the New Melle Chamber of Commerce.
A lot of people probably don't realize, but Virginia Dowden was instrumental in getting a library branch in New Melle, and a new water tower built to improve water pressure in Callaway Valley and other "end of the line" locations in this portion of the water district.
If not for her persistent advocacy of those two causes, they would certainly not have happened as quickly as they did, if at all. Virginia also served several terms as President of the New Melle Chamber of Commerce, supporting local businesses and events, and on the St. Charles County Vision Leadership Board, which was a development program for business and community leaders. She was a strong woman that did a lot for this community and we want to extend our sincere condolences to her family.
Virginia Lee Dowden
Virginia was born in Gainesville, Florida on December 14th, 1931 to Aurelia Lee Schuton and Parks Mason Carmichael. She graduated from high school in Galveston, Texas in 1950 and then graduated from Rice University in Houston, Texas in 1954 with Bachelor of Arts degree in History. In Houston, she met Wayne while he worked as a chemical engineer for Shell Oil Company. They were married on September 18th, 1953 and would be married for 67 years.
She is survived by her daughter Deborah, son John, daughter in law Kimberly and grandson Hunter, as well as her sister Mason, brother-in-law Parkhill, and many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her loving husband Wayne on June 10th, 2020, and her parents Parks Carmichael and Aurelia Hall, stepmother Beulah Carmichael, stepfather Joseph Hall, and brother John Carmichael.
After raising her children to school age, Virginia decided she wanted to become a schoolteacher. She enrolled at and received her teaching credential from Harris Stowe Teacher’s College in St. Louis, Missouri in 1968. For 26 years she worked as both a special education teacher and resource specialist for the Special School District of St. Louis County. She retired in 1994.
Virginia was extremely passionate about her work for Public Water District #2 of St. Charles County and served as President of the Board of Directors from 2002 to 2016. Many improvements occurred during her tenure including building a new water tower in New Melle. When the St Charles County Library terminated their bookmobiles, Virginia started regularly attending library board meetings and strongly advocated for the establishment of the Boone’s Trail Branch in New Melle. A temporary branch opened in 1997, and Virginia continued advocating until the current, permanent facility opened in 2002.Wayne and Virginia moved to Callaway Valley near the town of New Melle in the Summer of 1988. Virginia was very active in the New Melle community. She was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and a past president. She always enjoyed helping with the annual easter egg hunt in the Spring. She participated in the St. Charles County Vision Leadership Program of 1998 and valued the experience.
During her retirement, she and Wayne enjoyed traveling throughout the United States and Canada. One of her favorite trips was an ocean cruise to Alaska. Another was taking a steamboat cruise on the Delta Queen on the Mississippi River. She also enjoyed fishing, gardening, and raising four bulldogs.
Both Virginia and Wayne will be buried at the Sugarcreek Cemetery in Stockland, Illinois in June. A local memorial service is planned for that time. Wayne’s obituary can be found online at: