Mildred Downing, 86, passed away on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013.
She was born to Harold Vail and Esther Finfrock in Hines (now Paramount) California on Jan. 13, 1927. She was oldest of five children. She grew up in Bellflower, and graduated from Excelsior High School. She was a secretary at Republic Supply near Los Angeles, CA. One of her greatest joys as a young adult was taking her younger sister and brother to places like Catalina Island by pontoon plane, Disneyland within a year of its grand opening, and a streetcar trip to Los Angeles.
Mildred attended Long Beach State where she received her Master’s in music. She was an accomplished pianist and taught many students piano and organ lessons.
She directed the choir and sang in trios and quartets at Bellflower Assembly of God and Fullerton Assembly of God in Southern California. She also sang in The Old Fashioned Revival Hour Radio Ministry. ‘Millie’ was the accompanist for Ralph Carmichael, (conductor and violinist), and together they produced several of the old “78 records”.
She met Denvil Downing at Bellflower AOG. On their first date, they went with the youth to a Harvest Party and Hay Ride. They were married on March 27, 1961. She taught music and English at Fullerton High School where she directed musicals like “South Pacific,” “Sound of Music,” and “110 in the Shade.” When she was 36, her daughter Leslie was born.
The Downing family moved from the Los Angeles area in the early 1970s and bought a farm near Highway 120 in Oakdale. They attended Escalon First Assembly of God (Trinity Church), where she directed choir and directed many Christmas and Easter programs. The most notable were “The Singing Christmas Tree,” and “I Love America,” a Fourth of July Celebration with sky divers and fireworks that was held at the Escalon High Football Stadium. Mrs. Downing was also the church secretary for Pastor John Short at Escalon First Assembly.
In the 1990s, she was part of the seniors group, “Joint Heirs” at River Oak Grace in Oakdale where she played the piano for worship time. She loved the Lord completely, and delighted in singing and playing music for Him. She dearly loved her family and friends, and was always making hand-crafted cards and knitting sweaters, shawls, blankets, and slippers to give to them.
Survivors include her beloved husband of 51 years, Denvil Downing; daughter, Leslie Williams; sister, Kathleen Dunn; brother, John Vail; stepdaughters, Shelby Barton and Luedean Croslin; five grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild.
She was preceded in death by her parents, and her sisters, Jeanette York and Ruth McKenzie.
Visitation was held on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at Deegan Funeral Chapel in Escalon.
A Graveside Service was held on Thursday, Feb. 14 at the Oakdale Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to Modesto Community Hospice.
For condolences to the family, visit their website at www.deeganfuneralchapels.com.
The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader
Feb. 20, 2013