James Downing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 20, 2008

NATCHEZ – Services for James Henry Downing, 96, of Jackson, formerly of Natchez, who died Sunday, Aug. 17, 2008, at his son’s residence, in Jackson, will be at 11 a.m. today at Laird Funeral Home Union Street Chapel.
Burial will follow at Greenlawn Memorial Park Cemetery under the direction of Laird Funeral Home.
Visitation will be from 10 a.m. until service time today at the funeral home
Mr. Downing was born Nov. 27, 1911, in Eudora, Ark., the only son of Eugene Patrick and Mittie Holt Downing.
Mr. Downing moved to Natchez with his young family in 1937. Their first and closest friends for over 50 years were the late Leighton and Eilene McDonald. Mr. Downing was an active member of the Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society, local lodge and served as one of the first delegates to the National Convention. He received the “Mr. Woodman” award in 1973. He also served as Worthy Patrol of the Natchez Chapter No. 75 of the Order of Eastern Star. He was past Worshipful Master of the Andrew Jackson Masonic Lodge and served as secretary for many years. Mr. Downing was a longtime member of the First Presbyterian Church, where he was Sunday school superintendent for many years.
Mr. Downing was a talented artist and will be remembered as the winner of the 1957 Annual Natchez Garden Club sponsored Christmas Decoration Contest, winning first place for his theme “Traveling the Road of Yesteryear.” Mr. Downing spent many years as shipping and pressing foreman for Blue Bell Manufacturing Company. He was instrumental in planting many trees to shade the plant from the heat. These trees were named the “Jim Oaks” and “Downing Willows.”Upon closure of the Blue Bell plant, he was employed by Armstrong Tire and Rubber Company as shipping foreman and prior to retiring, he worked for Feltus Brothers Hardware, specializing in paint and specialty products. He was always involved in creating and participating in activities with his two sons, Neil and Larry and their friends, which included control line and radio controlled model airplanes, as well as drawing plans and building a Morse code sending and receiving unit. He was active in the Mississippi Amateur Radio Society.
He will always be lovingly remembered for his caring and generosity of his time and talents to many friends and family members as “Mr. Jim” “Uncle Son” “Dad” and “Granddaddy.”
Mr. Downing was preceded in death by his wife, Wilma Overby Downing; one son, Larry Eugene Downing; four sisters, Lucille Bordelon, Thelma Pulley, Frankie Stephens and Genna Lee Crawford.
He is survived by one son, James Neil Downing and wife, Elva Ruth; one granddaughter, Ruth Ellen Lagos and husband, Alexander, both of Allen, Texas; one sister, Eugenia Justice of Baton Rouge; six nieces; one nephew; and several great-grandnieces and grandnephews.
Pallbearers will be Roger Haynes, Jimmy Dickey, Robert Longmire, Harold Creekmore, Richard Kuehn Sr., and Richard Kuehn Jr.
Memorials may be made to Pearl Presbyterian Church, Building Fund, 2933 Old Brandon Road, Pearl, MS 39208.

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