David Edward Downer passed away on May 31, 2017 at his home on the Boardman River. He was surrounded by family and friends.
Dave was born on December 6, 1946 to Don and Jane Downer. He had the good fortune to grow up with his three brothers, Roger, Jim and Doug on the south end of Grand Traverse Bay along Mitchell Creek where they were "free range kids". He learned to fish, hunt, ride horses, and camp. Under the guidance of Pappy Dorman, he learned to be a reliable worker while still having fun. After the loss of his dad, Don, Dave welcomed Richard Green as his step father and Carol (Greg) Thompson as his step sister.
Dave graduated from Traverse City High School in 1965 and moved to East Lansing. Dave was proud to have worked his way thru college at Michigan State University where he obtained a Masters Degree in Social Work. During his college years, Dave lived through the Viet Nam era, the Civil Rights Movement, and the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy, Malcomb X and Martin Luther King. As a soldier of peace, the violence of these tragedies broke Dave's heart.
His career began at the Traverse City Regional Psychiatric Hospital as a Social Worker in the geriatrics division and Arnell Engstrom Children's Center. He was proud to have worked under the guidance of Dan Everett MD who doubled as valued lifelong friend. Dave's career gradually led him to TBAISD where, as a School Social Worker, he covered five school districts in Antrim County as a part of the "A TEAM" with his friends Tom, Marty, Regis and Ed.
Dave married his love, Sally Wicksall, in 1979. He considered this the most valuable time of his life. Together they raised their treasured sons, Jud and Abe at their home on the Boardman River. Sally lived on the Boardman all of her life and together, they were able to obtain river property. It was here that, with the help of John Dyksterhouse and Sally's brother Tim, they were able to build their dream home where they would raise their family. From their parents, they learned to swim, fish, hunt, camp and respect nature. They learned honesty, integrity, respect and honor. Jud and Abe left their dad with the knowledge that they are fine young men who are kind, intelligent, honest and honorable. In 1998, Dave and Sally retained most of their river property but moved downstream to the Wicksall family homestead where they lived from then on.
In 2005, their granddaughter, the light of their life, Ayla Belle, was born. No words can express the love Dave had for this young lady who simply enjoyed being with her Grampy and teasing him, riding his tractor, showing him her horses and riding skills and much more. In 2015, Dave was blessed with two more precious grandchildren, Lila and Aiden Hilts, who have blended right in with the river life their Grampy treasured.
Dave's hobbies were many. He was instrumental in the maintenance of the current line of Wicksall English Setters. He excelled at fly fishing, duck and upland bird hunting. He built wood canvas canoes as well as rustic furniture. It broke his heart to see the removal of the Boardman River dams so he became a missionary of the truth behind the politics of the removals. He was a champion for the conservation of nature and the environment.
In this world, Dave leaves behind his wife, Sally; his sons, Jud (Katie) and Abe; his grandchildren, Ayla, Lila, Aiden; his siblings and their families, Mary Downer, Jim (Kathi) Downer and Doug (Lauri) Downer; Sally's siblings and their families, Tim (Marti) Wicksall, Suzette (Bob) Hoxie, Pat (Jeannie) Wicksall, Bridget (Frank) Williams and Pete (Cindy) Wicksall and countless friends. He was preceded in passing by his parents, Don and Jane; brother, Roger; Sally's parents, Bill and Zetta Wicksall; stepfather, Richard Green; stepsister Carol Thompson.
Family and friends will be notified of Dave's celebration of life gathering which will take place at his home at a later date.
Should you wish, donations in the name of Dave's memory may be made to Ark Angel Ancient Tree Archives (PO Box 98 Copemish, Mi 49625 or www.ancienttreearchive.org).
Dave forever wished "for the love of mankind, people, give peace a chance."
Published on  June 11, 2017