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How Late-Blooming Audiologist Marion Downs Improved the Lives of Countless Children

I'm so pleased to introduce you to Marion Downs, the astonishing grandmother of my friend Roylin Downs.

Marion was born on January 26, 1914, in New Ulm, Minnesota. She passed away a century later, but not before making a difference in thousands, perhaps millions, of children's lives.

Marion studied English at the University of Minnesota until 1934 but dropped out to marry her sweetheart, George Downs. Together they had three children.

Fast forward a decade and a half. While washing dishes, Marion had an epiphany: "Was this what I was going to do for the rest of my life?" She dried her hands and headed for the nearby University of Denver, which had begun fall enrollment.

Thousands of soldiers with GI Bills packed the auditorium. The lines were endless, so Marion chose the shortest one—Speech and Hearing. It was fate. She loved audiology from the start.

At 38, Marion earned her M.A. in Audiology. At 45, she became the first director of audiology at the CU Denver School of Medicine.

In her 50s, Marion pioneered the first U.S. infant hearing screening program. She then fought for nearly three decades to convince her peers to adopt it. Today, thanks to her, 95% of newborns are screened for hearing loss and get hearing aids as early as six months.

Before Marion, screening was haphazard and children with hearing loss couldn't receive hearing aids until age three. The difference those few years make to a child's speech, comprehension, and quality of life is immeasurable. 

In her 90s, Marion wrote her memoir, Shut Up and Live! A 93-Year-Old’s Guide to Living to a Ripe Old Age.

She adopted that mantra after a ski instructor countered her fear of a big run with “Shut up and ski, you know how!” She started skiing in her 50s and was still hitting the slopes in her 90s.

Marion Downs passed away ten months after her 100th birthday gala, which benefited the Marion Downs Hearing Center in Denver.
What a legacy!

February Birthdays

February 3, 1907: Birth of James Michener, who published Tales of the South Pacific at age 40. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s turned it into the musical South Pacific. Over the next 50 years Michener published 40 more books, including one that derailed my corporate career! READ MORE

February 12, 1809: Birth of Charles Darwin, who published On The Origin of Species at age 50. Darwin waited decades after his famous Beagle voyage to introduce his theories. Scholars have called this period his "incredible procrastination." Was it really? READ MORE

February 14, 1955: Author Claire Cook celebrates her 66th birthday! Claire published Must Love Dogs in her late 40s. At age 50, she walked down the red carpet with Diane Lane and John Cusack at its big screen adaptation. READ MORE

If you didn't receive your 2021 Later Bloomer Calendar in December, you can still download it here.

Celebrating More Than 140 Late Bloomer Success Stories and Articles!

While working on The Later Bloomer Daily Companion, I finally created an index of every Later Bloomer post and put it online.

If lockdown is getting you down, this might be an inspirational way to spend a few hours. Just click on the preview of "A" below to peruse the entire list.

Stay well and see you next month!


Debra Eve (photo)Hello, dear reader. I'm Debra Eve, proud late bloomer and possessor of many passions.

At, I've written about more than 100 people in the arts, humanities, and sciences who followed their creative passions later in life. I know that creativity never gets old and want to inspire your dreams, too.

You can also find Later Bloomer on Instagram and Facebook.

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