Athens Review, Athens, Texas

November 12, 2013

Downing passed away at 77

Community remembers band leader

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — Tommy Downing, who died on Monday at age 77, is remembered as someone who loved young people, and was able to inspire them to give their best.

Downing directed high school bands in Mabank, Kemp and Athens, as well as Athens Junior High and Henderson County Community College. Later, he was Chief of Henderson County Juvenile Probation upon his retirement in 1998.

Longtime Athens Band Director John Glover remembers Downing as the person who gave him his first directing job at Athens Independent School District.

“He was high school band director then,” Glover said. “He was a man who truly loved kids and treated them fairly. He was a great friend.”

Alice Woods Smith, now of Artesia, N.M., and who played in Downing’s band at the college, agrees that he was able to connect with young people.

Smith remembers Downing as a firm teacher who also knew how to have fun.

“He was a great guy, and could relate to us,” Smith said. “He treated us like we were his kids, but also as adults. That’s a fine line.”

Athens Assistant Chief of Police Rodney Williams III, worked for Downing when he headed the county juvenile probation department from the office on Larkin Street.

“He was a good man and was well liked,” Williams said. “It’s a loss to the community. He’ll be missed.”

A graveside service is scheduled for 10 a.m., Thursday in Athens Cemetery. A memorial service will follow at 11 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church with Dr. C. William McNatt officiating.