Ray Downing, of Grove, Oklahoma passed away Monday, April 29, 2019 in Joplin, Missouri. A week before he passed, Ray turned 76—proudly setting the record as the first Downing man to live to that age.
Ray set many records during his long career as a professional grandpa: the greatest number of summer trips to Silver Dollar City and the most miles canoed down the Elk River, to name just a couple. As a master storyteller with an inventive imagination, he also helped his grandkids break a record—the most number of times to ask, “Mema, is that true??”
Ray was a skilled mechanic and a master craftsman, and the monuments of his labor are sprinkled along the shoreline of Grand Lake. In the course of building and renovating their homes, Ray shared these skills with his kids and grandkids such that his knowledge lives on in their minds.
Ray is survived by a tight-knit family that aspires to emulate his kindness, selflessness and zeal for life. He is survived by his high school sweetheart and wife of 56 years, Natasha, one daughter, Tracy and husband Kyle Schemmel, one son, Wes and wife Kathy Downing, eight grandchildren: Colton and wife Brooke Downing; Dalton Downing; Eliza Downing; Ty Downing; Spencer Watson; Samantha Schemmel; Breana Schemmel; and Alexandra Schemmel, as well as two great grandchildren: Doc Downing and Tru Downing.
In lieu of a funeral, Ray requested that those who remember him celebrate his life in their own way. And in the words of Ray Downing, he’ll catch ya on the flip side.