21 Sep 2008 — Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio
Richard Downs, 91, an extraordinary sportsman and loving husband and father, died early Sunday morning, September 21, 2008, surrounded by his family. Mr. Downs was born in Toledo, Ohio on October 21, 1916. He graduated from Waite High School in 1934 and attended the University of Toledo. During his high school years, he played for Toledo Silver Streaks, a football team in the Ohio Bantamweight Football Association owned by Scripps Publishing. In his twenties, he trained under coach, Peppy Justo, at the University of Toledo becoming a Golden Gloves Boxer. He was a longshoreman for 40 years at the Toledo Lakefront Docks, unloading lake freighters including the famed Edmund Fitzgerald.
In April of 1943, he enlisted in the Army Air Force to serve his country in WWII. As a first lieutenant, he piloted aircraft and commanded crew in the transportation of troops into enemy territory. Flying cargo including 55-gallon drums of gasoline and Chinese infantrymen over the Himalayas, he completed 72 combat missions in China, Burma and India. He was awarded the air medal with three oak leaf clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He flew both C-46 and C-47 aircraft. The C-47 had a 95-foot wingspan and carried cargo of 33,000 pounds. He was proud of having taught his grandson, John, to fly; and in 2007, he pinned Air Force wings on John at his ROTC Commissioning Ceremony.
He was a charter member of the Toledo Submariners Scuba Club and taught scuba diving at the YMCA. He designed and built a plexus-glass camera cover that enabled underwater photography. He took his family on annual trips to the Florida Keys, one year wrestling a forty-pound grouper to the surface. He then had the fish smoked and sent home. In his later years, he attended yearly hump pilot conventions as a member of the China - Burma - India Hump Pilot Association, sometimes arriving with his wife in his own Cessna 150, a plane he flew beyond his 90th birthday. He was a member of the Heatherdowns Country Club and a long-time member of the Toledo Sailing Club. After retiring, he spent many winters sailing "Seahawk," his Downeaster, throughout the Caribbean. He enjoyed maintaining friendships with fellow sailors hailing from Michigan, Texas and Florida. Recently, he kept his plane at the Bordner Airport outside of Bowling Green. In a newspaper article appearing in the Bowling Green Sentinel, he was quoted as saying, "When you retire, that's what you're after-fun. And you can't have fun without toys," He loved the challenges of scuba diving, flying and sailing, maintaining a sense of adventure that lasted a lifetime.
Dick is survived by his loving wife of 37 years, Betty Teize Downs; his daughters, Jennifer Rogers, Shelley (David) Kozy, Jane (Dan) Blackshaw and step-daughter, Gale (Mike) Kilcorse; grandchildren, Diana (Scott) Biggins, Lisa (Matthew) Reece, Julie (Will) Bruckert, Leah Kozy, John Kozy, Kari and Jeffrey Blackshaw; great-grandchildren, Tyler Whearty, Jonell, Clayton and Lanie Reece and Evelyn Bruckert; step-grandchildren, Mike, Tim (Amy) and Jeff Kilcorse and Erinne (Josh) Conley; 7 step-great-grand-children; sister, Eleanor Dickerhoff; as well as many nieces, nephews and loving friends.
He was preceded in death by his beloved first wife, Jonell; son, Richard who died in 1953; half-brother, John Sheehy and half-sister, Gladys Sigismond. The family would like to give special thanks to Dick's granddaughter, Diana and her fiancé, Scott, for their love and care. A graveside service will be held on Saturday, October 11, 2008 at 11:00 a.m. at Ottawa Hills Memorial Park Cemetery. Arrangements by Maison-Dardenne-Walker Funeral Home (419) 893-7686. www.walkerfuneralhomes.com
Published in the Toledo Blade from 9/23/2008 - 9/24/2008
Burial: Ottawa Hills Memorial Park, Ottawa Hills, Lucas County, Ohio, USA
Social Security Death Index
Name: Richard J. Downs
Born: 21 Oct 1916
Died: 21 Sep 2008
State (Year) SSN issued: Ohio (Before 1951)
ANCESTRY OR LINEAGE
RICHARD "DICK" J5 DOWNS (ROBERT FULTON4, RICHARD GEORGE3, GEORGE2, RICHARD1),son of ROBERT FULTON DOWNS and SARAH ANN MALONEY, was born October 21, 1916 in Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio, and died September 21, 2008 in Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio. RICHARD DOWNS is the grandson of RICHARD GEORGE DOWNS and SARAH ANN LATTER of Ashland, Ohio and grandson of JOHN MALONEY and MARY MAHER of Ontario, Canada. He is a great grandson to GEORGE DOWNS and SARAH ANN HAYES of Ashland, Ohio.