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The Western Star, August 17, 1978.

Marvin Downing Dies in Coldwater

Marvin Theodore Downing, 93, retired county maintenance operator died Sunday, August 13, 1978. Services were held at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 16, 1978, at the Federated church in Wilmore.

Survivors are sons, Edgar of Odessa, Texas, James A., Wilmore, Robert L., Mullinville, Kans., Donald N., San Jose, Calif.; Orlin A., Manhattan; daughters, Myrtle Sunderland, Pratt, Dorothy E. Purkey, Wichita; sister, Eva Rennaker of Iberia, Mo.

Hatfield-Prusa Funeral Home of Coldwater, Kans., was in charge of arrangements.

The Western Star, August 24, 1978.

M. T. Downing Services Held

Funeral services were held for Marvin T. Downing of Wilmore, Kans., on Wednesday, 10:30 a.m., August 16, 1978, at the Federated church, Wilmore, Kans., with Rev. Wm. McFall, minister. Organist, Mrs. Ernestine Zeigler, accompanied soloist Gene Dorsey as he sang The Old Rugged Cross, Peace in the Valley, and How Great Thou Art.

Pallbearers were Ronald Downing, Chester Purkey, Harold Purkey, Michael Downing, R. W. Downing, and Jimmie Hyatt.

Honorary pallbearers were Lawrence York, Wade Zeigler, Don York, Mort Newton, Ed Baker, Lester Fry, Kenneth Trummel, Clark Yost, F. H. Moberley, Claude Bramlett, Fred Booth, Merlin Wedel, Rod Baker.

Interment was in Wilmore cemetery, Wilmore, Kans.


Marvin Theodore Downing was born in Gray county, Kansas on March 25th, 1885 to William and Susan Downing. He died August 13, 1978 at the age of 93. At the age of eight years Marvin along with his sister, Eva, and his father, William Downing, moved from Gray to Comanche county, settling in the Nescatunga community. He spent the remaining years of his life in Comanche county.

The early years of his life were spent in farming and ranching on the farm where his father settled.

On September 19, 1911 he was married to Mary Powell. Seven children were born to this marriage; Myrtle, Edgar, James, Robert, Dorothy, Donald, and Orlin.

The family moved to the Wilmore community in 1921. At that time he was employed by Comanche county as an operator of road maintenance equipment until his retirement at the age of 75. His wife, Mary, passed away in May of 1933 but Marvin maintained the home and raised his children.

After his retirement, he continued for several years in custom farming. His greatest interest and source of joy was his family consisting of his five sons, two daughters, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, 14 grandchildren and 27 great grandchildren, all of whom dearly loved and highly respected their dad, granddad, and great granddad.

Marvin was a member of Wilmore Lodge, No. 412 A. F. & A. M. and took great pleasure in attending lodge with his brothers. He loved his friends in Wilmore and Comanche county and refused to leave the Wilmore community until failing health required him to do so.

He also maintained an ongoing, well informed interest in community affairs, sports, polities and national events.

In the next life if there is work to be done, grain to be harvested, roads to be maintained, cattle to be worked to fields to be plowed, Marvin will be at the head of the line to insure that more than his fair share is done; that was Marvin's way.

Marvin Downing's Experience with a Tornado

May 20th, 1949 was just an average beautiful spring day in Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas. It was the last day of school and, according to custom, the school had a basket dinner to celebrate the fact. Everyone connected with the school in any way, or just anyone who wanted to, brought food and joined in the festivities. There was always a tremendous variety and amount of food If my memory serves me correctly, I believe this was the last year the dinner was held. This year it was held in the combination bus garage, lunchroom and kitchen that had been built a few years earlier. I don't have any hard figures but I'm sure there were over 100 people in the bus garage and lunchroom around noon, but by the grace of God, by 4 p.m. everyone had left the area. At approximately 4 p.m., a tornado swept into town. It hit Marvin Downing's house at the S.W. corner of town first. He had a small square frame house with 4 equal-sized rooms. He was sitting in the living room, the southeast room of the house. He was sitting on a wooden kitchen chair in the N.W. corner of the room near the wood stove, reading a newspaper. In a matter of seconds he was sitting on his chair with only the floor of the house and the stove beside him. The balance of the house and everything else in it were simply gone. One of the many strange things was that even tho' his paper had not been torn, or pulled from his hands, the wall approx. 2 feet to his left was gone and the one aproximately 6 feet to his right was also gone. It seems that it just wasn't his time to go. He had a new home built on the same spot and lived out his life there, but I'm sure he never forgot that day.

-- Excerpt from Tornados in the Wilmore, Kansas area by Wendel G. Ferrin.

Mary (Powell) Downing, wife of Marvin Theodore Downing.

William J. Downing, father of Marvin Theodore Downing.

Donald Ned Downing, son of Marvin Theodore Downing.

James Alonzo Downing, son of Marvin Theodore Downing.

A Strange Coincidence In the Purkey Family, The Western Star, June 27, 1927. (Mrs. C.F. Purkey was a daughter of Marvin Downing.)

Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!

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