Harold L. Downing December 14, 1926 ~ November 25, 2013
Harold Lehman Downing 86, of Elkins passed away Monday, November 25, 2013 at Washington Regional Medical Center. He was born on a cold, blustery day, December 14, 1926 in a Kansas farmhouse to Jerry Downing and Goldie Miller Downing. He graduated from Harmony Grove High School in Camden, Arkansas on May 11, 1945 and attended the University of Arkansas as Electrical Engineering major. His chosen career started out as a second generation electrical lineman, following his father, brothers and uncles by climbing poles and stringing electrical lines and wiring and designing power plants and military bases coast to coast, especially during the height of World War II. He became a Master Electrician traveling in a small travel trailer mostly through the Midwest after he married Irene September 11, 1947 to continue the career he started. He and his parents discovered the “old home place” in the Ozarks and when his children became school age, he, commuted to construction sites, traveled thousands of miles back to participate in the lives of his children. Harold and Irene were Washington County 4-Hleaders for over 30 years, avid Elkins School Booster Club and PTA Members. He coached sport teams and took trail rides with the kids. His life was centered around his wife and children. His recreation was his music. Harold was a very talented musician, capable of playing all stringed instruments, accompanied by his fine Irish tenor. He was a member and deacon of Sulphur City Baptist Church and served as choir leader for many years. He and Irene made weekly trips to nursing homes to sing to the residents for many years until he was unable to drive. Harold never met a stranger. He greeted everyone he met with a handshake and huge smile- usually with a tale to tell- or a song to sing. His love was his bride Irene. He spent the last 10 years of his life as a caretaker. He worshipped the ground she’s glided so gracefully on and his last concerns were for her wellbeing. In the family Bible, this statement was found, dated Wednesday night September 2, 1953. “If you can’t do something with what you have then it wouldn’t do you any good to have any more. Because if you had more to do something with you wouldn’t do any more with it” His Dream was to be a cowboy and not of the rhinestone variety. He lived his dream with his horses, cattle, his old weathered saddle, broken down boots and his favorite old cowboy hat that he never allowed to be replaced. He loved nature and respected our country’s environment as an EPA advocate. He sometimes wished he’d been born a hundred years earlier, in a much simpler time. He is preceded in death by his parents; step-mother who raised him, Blanche Antil Downing; three brothers, George, Frances and Charles Downing and his sister, Betsy Marie. He is survived by his beautiful bride of 67 years, Irene Combs Downing of the home, 2 daughters, Connie Downing Langley of Fayetteville, Cindy Downing Farmer of Elkins, 3 sons, Larry Downing of Elkins, Doyle Downing of Ft. Hood, TX. and Tim Downing of Elkins. 12 grandchildren, dozens of great grandchildren and a host of others he adopted and mentored as if they were his own. The family will celebrate his life from 12 to 2 PM at Sulphur City Baptist Church on December 3, 2013. A funeral service will follow at 2 PM with Pastor Dallas Auslam officiating. Burial will be at Walnut Grove Cemetery in Crosses under the direction of Beard’s Funeral Chapel. In lieu of flowers the family would like memorials to be made to Sulpher City Baptist Church, 17472 E Black Oak Rd, Fayetteville, AR 72701. Online condolences may be made to the family at www.beardsfuneralchapel.com.
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