Wayne E. Downing

Funeral services for Wayne E. Downing, 76, of Greenville will be at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, December 10, 2011 at First United Methodist Church.  He died at his home on Monday, December 5, 2011 after a lengthy illness.  Burial will be in Indianola City Cemetery, Indianola with full military honors.  Arrangements are under the direction of Boone-Wells Funeral Home. He was born on March 15, 1935 in Lincoln, Illinois the son of Morgan O. and Lucille M. Lessen Downing.  He attended the Lincoln Public School and was a graduate of Colorado State University and later did graduate work on an MBA at Delta State University. Downing attended Colorado State on a football scholarship.  He was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon serving as treasurer and house manager.  He was commissioned a 2nd Lt. through the ROTC at CSU. He entered pilot training on September 29, 1957, getting his wings at the Greenville Air Force Base in November 1958. He married the former Joanne James in May 1959 and they were married for over 52 years. During his military service most of his duty was in the Strategic Air Command flying the B-47 and the B-52’s. He was a Command Pilot with over 2,500 flying hours.  He spent a year in Vietnam as a Forward Air Controller.  During his time in Vietnam he was highly decorated.  He was awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Combat Readiness Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Award, Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Silver Star, Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Gold Star and Vietnam Service Medal with 3 Bronze Service Stars.  Downing was the chief  Air Force officer in his section acting as a liaison between the governments.  He also served 8 months on the DMZ in Korea following the capture of the Pueblo. He retired at the rank of Major after 20 years.  His last duty station was at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, LA at 8th Air Force Headquarters as the chief scheduler of a B-52 air training.  Those responsibilities included the scheduling of training for 28,000 crew members. He retired on December 31, 1977. His duties as the first airport director for Greenville began in January 1978.  During his tenure many improvements were made at the airport facility.  Downing was responsible for tearing down old barrack buildings. His involvement with the Delta Center Stage was paramount.  He actively recruited industries securing Leading Edge and Boeing where he oversaw the building of the facility.  During his service as director he totally renovated the airport building and also many improvements were made to the runways and runway lights.  Downing was a strong advocate for his employees. He served on the Transportation Committee for the Chamber working on the new bridge and the bypass. His civic duties also included helping to organize the Delta Pilot Association and further he assisted in getting an aeronautics major developed at Delta State. He supported and gave space for the Explorer Scouts.  He retired as the Airport Directors after 20 years. He was president of Delta Center Stage twice.  He was on the Delta Symphony Association, and was a life member of the American Legion attached to Post 32 and a member of the First United Methodist Church serving on the Board of Trustees, Pastor Parish Committee and President of the Christian Homemakers Sunday School Class.  He was an avid hunter and fisherman. He was preceded in death by his parents, a daughter Debbie Downing McDermott and his inlaws, Van Owen James and Addie Mae Kimbrough. He is survived by his wife,  Joanne James Downing of Greenville; a daughter, Patricia Downing Suber of Greenville; 3 brothers, Morgan A. Downing and wife Betty of Shalimar, FL, Dean E. Downing and wife Glenda of Lincoln, IL and Dennis Jones and wife Vicki of Lawrenceville, GA; granddaughter, Danielle Suber of Greenville; 2 grandsons, Justin Suber of Greenville and Paul Downing Mounce and wife Heather of Cleveland; great granddaughter, Morgan Elizabeth Mounce of Cleveland and great grandson, Keller Van Owen Mounce of Cleveland. The family will receive friends from 5:00- 7:00 p.m., Friday, December 9, 2011 at Boone-Wells Funeral Home, Greenville.  The Rev. Brad Hodges will officiate.  Memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church, Camp Looking Glass, American Cancer Society or to a charity of your choice.