Thursday, November 10, 2016

Hugh Downing setting type at his first job, in Galion, Ohio
Retired BJ printer Hugh Downing passes away

Retired BJ printer Hugh Downing, a little man with a big heart, passed away Wednesday, November 9 in The Villages, Florida. 

He will be cremated. There will be a Celebration of Life on the Downing driveway, 17900 S.E. 87th Bourne Avenue, at 4 p.m. Wednesday, November 16. A potluck meal will be part of the event.

Hugh Downing
Hugh and Sharon were a big help to Paula and me since we first showed up in 2013 in The Villages, Florida, where every day is playday for 119,000 residents who are 55 or older (the minimum age to buy a home there). They showed us the ropes, where to find this, where to do that. When Paula came south without me, they visited her and went to dinner with her.

When I was there for the winter, Hugh arranged our weekly Thursday golf tee times with former BJ State Desk reporter Bob Page, who is an associate pastor at the Live Oaks Community Church in The Villages. Bob’s first wife, Linda, was with him on Sackett Avenue in Cuyahoga Falls and their Barberton home before he left the BJ (1968-73) to study for the ministry. Bob met his current wife, Vicky, through his congregation.

My late wife, Monnie Turkette Olesky of Cinderella, West Virginia, and I got together with Hugh and Sharon on Siesta Key, adjacent to Sarasota, Florida, when Hugh and Sharon were staying in the late printer Bill Gorrell’s former Poor Bill’s rentals just across the street from the beach and the Gulf of Mexico. Before that, of course, Hugh and I exchanged pleasantries at Ol’ Blue Walls, including when he was working in the APS-4 computer room in Composing.

Sometimes Hugh would come tooling to 1970s State Desk reporter Paula Stone Tucker’s home in Lady Lake, Florida in Sharon’s 1995 Honda del Sol convertible. With a big smile on his face, of course.  “It’s been a good car,” Hugh said, “and quite fast.” Hugh said he once got it up to 90 or 95 mph, “then I got scared.” Again, another smile.

Hugh kept plugging away during rehabilitation therapy for his right shoulder, which was injured when a limb he was trimming from their tree knocked him off the ladder. He also had two heart attacks and a stroke over the years. And cataract surgery in both eyes. Always with a smile.

The photo that Sharon provided of Hugh was taken at his first job, with the Galion (Ohio) Inquirer. Even though Hugh knew of the Gal from Galion, Sharon, in high school, they were three years apart so nothing happened there. Sharon’s mother worked at a Galion factory and, after mom retired and Sharon’s parents moved to Florida, four guys from the Galion factory, who called Sharon’s mother “Mom,” showed up at the Florida home.

That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship and marriage. They were wed in 1960.

Hugh and Sharon’s children are Mark Downing, who lives in Erie, Pennsylvania; Chris, who lives in Hudson; Ben and Jonathan, who live in Toledo and Vienna, Virginia. The gang showed up for Christmas among the palm trees. The four sons and their wives provided Hugh and Sharon with seven grandchildren, which ties them with me (although I think I have the tie-breaker, two great-grandsons).

Hugh and Sharon moved to The Villages in 2000. The Downings lived in the city of Medina during Hugh’s BJ days. They had three houses there, one at a time, including one they built on three-fourths of an acre.

Then came the lure of The Villages, where you have to be 55 years old to buy a house, and where every day is playday – golf, free concerts and dancing in several town squares every night of the year, card games, pickleball (ping pong paddles on a tennis court), 2,200 clubs for every hobby imaginable and more than 300 activities every day of the year.

It is Disneyland for senior citizens. There are 119,000 residents with 50,000 golf carts that are used to get around the town and around the 47 golf courses. I’ve been to 55 countries and 44 states and I’ve never seen anything like it.

Sharon is active in several sports in The Villages.

Hugh was among the 45 retired printers who won the 2012 health care lawsuit against the Beacon Journal that restored their prescription co-pay benefits. Five Guild retirees, including me who filed the lawsuit on their behalf, also piggybacked on the lawsuit that the late Composing foreman Dave White started in 2009.
Condolence cards may be sent to Sharon at

17900 S.E. 87th Bourne Ave.
The Villages, FL 32159

Sharon's email address is 

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