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Dover Army vet: 'Service is the rent we pay'

Andre Lamar * Delaware
andre.lamar@doverpost.com
Dover Post

If you’ve been to Monster Miles for a Cause over the last few years, you probably heard Jean Dowding.

She’s the Army veteran who sings the national anthem before the start of the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition’s annual charity walk in Dover.

“That to me is one of the charities that’s extremely close to my heart, not only because of my loss of family members, but also friends, clients and soldiers, too,” she said.

Dowding, of Dover, was in the Army 25 years and was promoted to sergeant major. Military service is in her blood. Her father fought in World War II. Her brother was in Vietnam. And her sister was stationed at Dover Air Force Base.

Dowding’s lengthy résumé includes being a former Wall Street stockbroker, which she said explains her endless love for still wearing blazers when she steps out the house.

Now she’s a realtor for Re/Max 1st Choice. Dowding sits on the board of directors for the Delaware Association of Realtors.

You said people learn who they are when they serve others. What did it teach you?

I learned I’m a person who likes the comforts of life, and I don’t mind that. I also learned when you’re a leader and don’t care for other people, nothing happens. In military service, but in all service, there’s a common thread. The thing you find is on day one you can’t do it all by yourself.

When I was issued my first gear in the military (for all of my supplies and equipment) I was given something called a “shelter-half.” One of my first questions I asked my supply sergeant was, “where’s the other half?” He said to me, “Your buddy will bring it.” I said to him, “Who’s my buddy?” Then he said, “It could be anybody,” and he laughed at me. 

How would you define Memorial Day?

We always say we honor those who serve and we celebrate life. But because it’s memorial, in many cases it means they’re no longer with us. I believe it’s the service that we honor, and the service we celebrate. Something I say all the time is “service is the rent we pay in life,” because life isn’t forever.

What was learned from the 2008 housing crash that might help realtors now?

What we know right now is interest rates are very low, which means payments will also be lower. That’s a good thing. What we learned from 2008 is demand [especially from people moving here from neighboring states] can drive prices up. But there were are also some things that were artificial. There were people who bought a house and paid $400,000 for it, but they were only able to qualify for around $300,000. So the bank said we can give you another $80,000. Now banks have learned to get tougher.

When a person bought a house in 2006 and 2007, they could’ve bought one with a credit score under 600. When this current market crashed, banks were asking for a credit score of 620. Then they asked for a minimum of 650 credit scores. So banks became a little tighter, because they themselves lost money in 2008.