2014-10-09 / Obituaries

Michael William Downey

Michael William “Bill” Downey, age 64, of Mariposa, passed away suddenly on Sept. 30, 2014 while hiking in Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, a place he loved dearly.

Bill had numerous passions that exemplified his zest for life. His travels were wide and varied: Paris, Portugal, Belize, South Africa and the many natural wonders of the U.S.

He would put his kayak in any body of water he could find. Bill had a wonderful eye for color and composition and created a beautiful nest for himself wherever he landed. Preparing a meal was always a pleasure for him, especially when sharing with friends. He imagined himself as a gentleman farmer with orchards or olive groves, but settled for a kitchen garden that kept him in vegetables all summer long.

He was also fascinated with architecture and by history, especially the early history of Mariposa and the Central Valley. He loved his adopted state of California, relishing the natural beauty, ocean shores and inviting climate. His family and friends will dearly miss his contagious laugh and smile that would light up any room.

Bill was born on Dec. 5, 1949 in Elwood, Ind. Bill was preceded in death by his parents, William and Margaret Downey, and a niece, Lisa. Survivors include a sister, Brenda Giselbach, a brother, Terry (Nancy) Downey, a sister, Karen Stover, a sister, Patty (Bob) LaShure, and several nieces and nephews and many dear friends form California and Indiana.

Bill graduated from Wendell L. Willkie High School in 1968 and attended Ball State University.

He worked at Guide Lamp in Anderson, Ind. for a short time before moving west to Manhattan Beach and then to Santa Cruz. He was one of the founders of The Santa Cruz Art Center and later became the manager of the largest gallery in the center. Afterwards, he was co-founder of the Downey/Wheat Gallery in downtown Santa Cruz, then went on to work at Seagate in Scotts Valley for 24 years in various positions, the last being senior project manager for Supply Chain Management. While at Seagate he expanded his love for travel and often extended business trips to ensure he saw parts of the world he would never have had the opportunity to experience otherwise.

Bill belonged to the Yosemite Area Audubon Society, where he was a member at large on the board of directors, and participated in the nest box program. He also served as a volunteer hike docent for the Sierra Foothill Conservancy. He was out almost weekly with the Sierra Hiking Seniors, Sierra Kayakers, and the local Master Gardeners, as well as a member of the Mariposa Photo Club and Miata Car Cruisers.

A memorial for Bill Downey will be held on Saturday, Oct. 11 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the home of Fran Goss, 5086 Tip Top Road in Mariposa. Bill’s family will be present at the Mariposa memorial.

Another memorial will be held in Santa Cruz on Oct. 18 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Moose Lodge.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Bill’s name to the Sierra Foothill Conservancy at www.sierrafoothill.org or P.O. Box 529, Prather, CA 93651 or to the Yosemite Area Audubon Society at www.yosemiteaudubon.org or by mail to P.O. Box 943, Mariposa, CA 95338.

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Bill you really made Mariposa

Bill you really made Mariposa and the Sierra come alive! I have a book shelf full of stories and histories, fond memories of back road rambling and uncountable hikes up and down, up and down, .. great campfires, wineries and fine home cooking. Thank you for sharing. Missing you, hugs, c

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