Ralph Strang Downing
October 16, 1920 – December 2, 2011
Ralph was born to Arthur and Ann Downing in Vernon, BC. He was one of six kids, having two brothers and three sisters. In 1941 he and his two brothers, Jack and Alf, joined the Armed Forces, with Ralph training in single engine airplanes in Ontario. He joined the RAF, Squadron 184, where he flew Hurricanes and rocket firing Typhoons. He provided air support to the ground forces on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. August 17, 1944 “Hap” was shot down by the Germans in France behind enemy lines and became a POW for 9 months, liberated by the Russians in 1945.
Following liberation he returned to England to marry his sweetheart Kathleen “Betty” Hudson on May 29, 1945. They returned to Canada where he trained at UBC then Oregon State University to attain his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Entomology. He served over 30 years as an entomologist at the Summerland Research Station. During this time he and Betts had 6 kids; 5 girls and a boy.
After losing Betts in 1982, Ralph married his second sweetheart and family friend, Joan Walker. They amalgamated two families so together they had 13 kids, 30 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren! Together they filled their lives with adventure and fun.
Ralph’s favourite pastimes included biking, hunting, snow-skiing, daily summertime swims at Sunoka, and dancing. He loved his time at the family cabin, filled with waterskiing, fishing, boating, and celebrating at many “Happy Hours”. Ralph celebrated loudly whenever a Canucks or Lions game was televised. Furniture was never the same! The one thing he enjoyed to his very last day was playing a good hand of bridge with his grandchildren, the computer and friends. Ralph was a member of Summerland Royal Canadian Legion, president of Summerland Power Squadron, trumpeter in the Summerland Band, and a figure skating judge.
He is predeceased by his first love Betts and daughter Sue. He is survived by his loving wife Joan, kids; Becky, Marg, Trish, Bruce and Jan; step-kids, two brothers, grandkids and great grandkids.
A Celebration of Ralph’s life was held at the Anglican Hall in Summerland on Sunday, December 4th. Donations in Ralph’s memory may be made to a charity of your choice; as Ralph donated to many. Condolences may be directed to the family through providencefuneralhomes.com. Providence Funeral Homes
“Summerland’s Rosedale Chapel”