Mary Downer

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Mary Downer, Lady Downer
Born Mary Isobel Gosse
(1924-12-13)13 December 1924
Parkside, South Australia
Died 14 October 2014(2014-10-14) (aged 89)
London, England
Nationality Australian
Spouse(s) Sir Alick Downer
Children Alexander Downer
Parent(s) James Hay Gosse and Joanna Lang Gosse (nee Barr Smith)
Relatives Tom Elder Barr Smith (grandfather)

Mary Isobel Downer, Lady Downer (13 December 1924 – 14 October 2014) was a prominent South Australian patron, wife of federal MP and high commissioner Sir Alexander "Alick" Downer, and mother of Liberal Party leader, Australian Foreign Minister and high commissioner Alexander Downer.

Mary Gosse and her four brothers were raised in Parkside, (an inner suburb of Adelaide) and was educated at Presbyterian Girls College (now Seymour College), then a private Presbyterian Church of Australia (now Uniting Church) school for girls. Her father, Sir James Gosse, was a prominent Adelaide businessman and philanthropist, as was her grandfather Tom Elder Barr Smith. At the age of 18, in the thick of World War II, like her brothers before her, she enlisted in the Army.[1] She joined the Searchlight Battalion, where she served as a truck driver in Western Australia. She moved to London with her husband Alick Downer in 1964 as he took up the post of Australian High Commissioner. She became involved with an Australian expatriate community, establishing the Chicken and Chablis Club, and became Lady Downer in 1965 when her husband was knighted.[2]

Lady Downer was an active patron of the Mary Potter Foundation,[3] from 1994. The foundation works to raise funds to support the work of the Mary Potter Hospice, operated by Calvary Health Care Adelaide, and to support the development of services to the terminally ill and their families by the Hospice through the provision of additional buildings, facilities, equipment and/or services. She was the primary patron of the Barossa Valley Music Festival in South Australia until its termination in 2005. An article on Lady Downer was featured in the Spring 2008 issue of Barossa Living.[4]

Mary, Lady Downer, died on 14 October 2014, aged 89, in London, while visiting her son Alexander Downer, the incumbent Australian High Commissioner to the UK.[2] Her body was cremated at Mortlake Crematorium in London on 22 October 2014 after a service officiated by the Dean of Westminster.


  1. ^ GOSSE, MARY ISOBEL, World War 2 Nominal Roll (Department of Veterans' Affairs).
  2. ^ a b "Lady Mary Downer, mother of former foreign minister Alexander Downer, dies in London". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Mary Potter Foundation website; accessed October 17, 2014.
  4. ^ Barossa Living website; accessed October 17, 2014.

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