John Michael Downes, “Mickey Downes”, of Rock Hall, Maryland and a Son of the American Revolution, died unexpectedly at the Washington Hospital Center, at the age of 76 on June 26th, 2012. He is survived by his loving wife, Jeanie Myers Downes, also of Rock Hall, MD.
Mike Downes was known as one of the most brilliant and talented men among his family and friends. He served his country and community with honor. He was a musician and a poet who entertained with laughter and stories, wit and charm, leadership and courage that is rare and admired. Few men are as comfortable with a rifle or guitar, fixing an engine or writing a poem, sailing the Chesapeake alone or raising 7 children in an old beach house, speaking Chinese or managing the range of machinery and people that make a city buzz. He was a unique character, unconventional and powerful, a man who lived on his own terms and in his own way.
Best known as Mickey in his early life, he graduated from Rehoboth High in 1954. Mickey enjoyed well-known athletic success as Captain of football, basketball, and baseball teams and Captain of the Rehoboth Beach Patrol.
He graduated from the University of Virginia and joined the U.S. Navy, becoming a Naval Intelligence Officer. Mr. Downes was married to Jean Lynch Downes, also of Rehoboth Beach. Together they raised seven children. During his military service, he took his family with him on station. He served in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during the Bay of Pigs invasion. LT Downes was stationed in Okinawa, Japan where he served in Southeast Asia during the early phases of the Vietnam War. Through U.S. Naval training, LT Downes was fluent in Mandarin Chinese. His language skills were used to help break codes and then later in life he would act as an interpreter in legal cases.
After his service in the Navy, Mr. Downes and family returned to his home in Sussex County. He held several managerial positions including at Doxsee Food Corp. in Lewes and the Town of Milton, DE.
He eventually moved to Rock Hall, Maryland where he was the City Manager. During this time he became founder and editor of the Rock Hall Times. At the time of his death, Mr. Downes was City Manager of New Carrolton, Maryland. In Rock Hall he pursued his lifelong passion for sailing and spent many days enjoying the bounties of the Chesapeake. He was an active hunter, sport fisherman, Harley rider, and loyal fan of college and professional sports, most notably the Washington Redskins. More than one television suffered the consequences when his team did not win!
Mr. Downes is predeceased by his parents, John Schoch Downes and Joan Woodworth Downes who raised their children in Henlopen Acres in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. He is also predeceased in death by a half-brother, James Albert Downes. He is survived by his sisters, Jo Anne Downes Whealton and Dana Downes Long of Milton, DE, Lucy Downes Casey of Cocoa Beach, FL with husband David, and brother Oliver Lee Downes, of Cocoa Beach, FL. He is survived by his children Laura Downes with Michael Cahill of Milton, John Michael “Mickey” Downes Jr. with fiancée Prudence Sanders of Dagsboro, Dara Downes Hearn with husband Capt. Jack of Lewes, Natalie Downes Doney with husband John of Annapolis, MD, Amy Downes Baker with husband CAPT Chuck USN, at Tinker AFB, OK, Dr. Molly Downes Foraker with husband Don of Salisbury, MD, and Katie Downes Walker with husband Geoff of Georgetown, DE, and 16 beautiful grandchildren. He is also survived by his father- in-law, Billy Myers of Worton, MD, two step-sons James D. Bowers, Jr. of Frederick, MD and Brian S. Bowers, of Middletown, DE, and numerous nieces, nephews, friends and colleagues.
Page 2 of 2 - Before he let go of this life, Mike had a wonderful reunion with his children. An expert at almost everything he was interested in, it is hard to capture his essence in words. He will always be the man of many worlds and in eternity, ready for the challenge. His children, thinking of their patriotic father, chose these words quoting LT H. Forgy, USN, during the attack on Pearl Harbor - “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!”
A celebration of life will take place in Rock Hall, Maryland on Saturday, July 7th at the Rock Hall Fire Hall, 21500 Rock Hall Avenue. Family will receive guests from 1:00-3:00 p.m. followed by a service.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations be made in Mike Downes’ memory to the Wounded Warrior Project, PO BOX 758517, Topeka, KS 66675 http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/, or the Rock Hall Volunteer Fire Department, P.O. Box 577, Rock Hall, MD 21661-0577.