College Gives Degrees to 6 in Family, 5 Posthumously

BOSTON — A Boston college is presenting honorary bachelor’s degrees to six members of a New Hampshire family, five of them posthumously.

Wentworth Institute of Technology said the members of the Downing family graduated with two-year degrees between 1914 and 1965.

The surviving Wentworth graduate from the family is 72-year-old Jonathan Downing, from the Class of 1965, who’ll pick up his honorary bachelor’s degree on campus on April 21 at a Legacy Luncheon. Wentworth said it plans on that day to bestow degrees posthumously to his great-uncle Edward, Class of 1914; his grandfather Lester, Class of 1916; his father, Judson, Class of 1940; and his uncles Richard and Philip, both Class of 1949.

The Downings, from Alton Bay, New Hampshire, attended Wentworth before it offered bachelor’s and master’s degrees and when graduates earned only certificates or two-year degrees.

Wentworth President Zorica Pantic said it’s “remarkable” that six family members graduated from the institute beginning more than a century ago.

“We want to honor the family for that achievement,” she said in an emailed statement.

Jonathan Downing graduated from Wentworth with a degree in architectural engineering technology and is a retired architect. He said he and his relatives were military veterans who worked as engineers and mechanics.
“We’ve been waiting a long time for this story to be told,” he said.

Children and spouses of the Downings who’ve died plan to accept the honorary degrees on their behalf.
The degrees will be presented the day before Wentworth holds its 2017 spring commencement.

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