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Roger Downs

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Roger Downs Obituary
The family of Roger Downs will gather in Durango on Monday, June 18, to bury his ashes in Greenmount Cemetery. He died on October 21, 2017, in Tucson, Arizona, at the age of 95.

Roger was a resident of Durango for 31 years, from 1976 to 2007. After the death of his wife, Judy, in 1979, he re-engaged in competitive tennis on the senior circuit. He played mostly in Australia and the U.S., winning many tournaments including the U.S. National Hard Court singles over 60 title and the U.S. National Indoor doubles over 60 title, both in 1985. For ten years, he lived in Noosa Heads, Queensland, Australia, for half the year, with the other half spent in Durango.

Roger Hansford Downs was born in Huntington, West Virginia, on June 20, 1922, to Mary Alice McAlhatten Downs and Wilbur Horatio Downs. From an early age he was passionate about sports. When the family settled in Indianapolis during his youth, Roger was introduced to table tennis and tennis. He excelled at both. In 1940, he was the Indiana State High School singles champion in tennis, and also won the Indiana State singles and doubles titles in table tennis. He played tennis at the University of Illinois from 1940-42 and 1946-47, and for one season at Northwestern University where he was attending a Navy basic flight program. He won the Big Ten singles championship for Northwestern in 1943, and the doubles championship for Illinois in 1947.

Roger served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, from 1943-1946. He was an officer (pilot, navigator and bombardier) on blimp patrol in the Caribbean, based in Florida and Cuba. Later, he was a navigator on transport flights throughout the Pacific, based in Honolulu.

Roger's business career was spent mostly at Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation, where he began as an accountant and rose into management, with a long stint at Kaiser headquarters in Oakland, California and another as a plant manager in Sherman, Texas.

Roger and Judith Gardner Downs were the parents of four daughters: Julia Downs (Branford, Connecticut), Susan Shaw (Plano, Texas), Martha Thomson (Lakeside, Montana), and Star Thomson (McMinnville, Oregon), all of whom survive him along with 8 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. Another daughter, LezLee Bushfield (Seabrook, Texas), also survives him. Roger was pre-deceased by a brother, Wilbur Horatio Downs, Jr.
Published in The Durango Herald on June 13, 2018
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