March 5, 1930-Jan. 10, 2020

Commander Thomas (Tom) Patrick Downing, USN (Ret.), son of Thomas and Elizabeth, was born and raised in Norfolk, Va. He later joined the Navy, excelled in flight school and earned his wings.

His 23 years of Naval service included several tours on aircraft carriers (USS Valcour, Valley Forge, and Intrepid), defending our country. His final military assignment was Contingency Plan Officer on the staff of Commander in Chief, Atlantic, Chief Command Center National Emergency Command Post.

On Jan. 19, 1957, Tom married the love of his life, Betty Cootes Downing. His love for God, family and country never wavered. His love for his family knew no limits. Tom lived a life that reflected his strong faith and he was a man of honor and integrity.

He was a selfless man whose actions spoke volumes. A stranger could walk up to him and talk with him for five minutes and walk away thinking he or she knew him for decades. A unique attribute that sums up his kindness and compassion, but is not surprising to those that knew him. He was loved immensely by all of his friends, family, and everyone who met him.

He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters, Elizabeth B. Coleman and Theresa D. Evans; and daughter, Stacy Shannon Downing.

He is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Betty Downing; daughters, Starr Karl and Kelly Cronin; son, Tommy Downing; sons-in-law, Mark Karl and Mark Cronin; daughter-in-law, Jane Downing; 10 grandchildren, (Shannon Soares, Kristen Downing, Erin Boutilier, Tucker Karl, Kacey Rauner, Tanner Karl, Molly Cronin, Kevin Downing, Brian Downing, Mackenzie Karl); and four great-grandchildren (Aidan Downing, Carrick Soares, Scout Soares, and Edee Karl).

Words cannot suffice to provide recognition of his devotion to family and faith, dedicated service, and embody the selfless life he lived full of unending kindness and compassion. Tom left an indelible mark in your heart and soul and will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.

He succumbed to Alzheimer’s on Jan. 10 with his devoted wife by his side.

A Funeral Mass will be held 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Harrisonburg. Burial will be 11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, at Fairfax Memorial Gardens, Fairfax, Va.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation or the Alzheimer’s Association.

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