Daniel B. Downer ’41 died in June 2017, in San Marino, California.
(The following was published in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on June 30, 2017:)
His family and friends lost a creative and caring soul when Daniel Bush “Dan” Downer, 98, a resident of San Marino for 63 years, passed away at his home, in peace, with his children by his side. Dan was born in St. Louis and raised in Newton, Massachusetts. When the family relocated to Southern California in 1939, Dan transferred from Maine’s Bowdoin College to Pomona College. After his 1941 graduation, he served in the Army Air Corps in Fairbanks, Alaska, and married his college sweetheart, Mary Lou Geis, of South Pasadena, in Juneau, September 1, 1945. The couple returned to Los Angeles in 1946 where Dan began a 50-year career as an award-winning producer of training and promotional films, becoming a founder and the first president of the Industrial Film Producers Association. He and Mary Lou moved to San Marino in 1954 where they raised their four children. Dan was an elder of San Marino Community Church, a member of the City’s Recreation Commission, on the City Club board, and served as Scoutmaster of Troop 355. A talented writer and performer, with a good-natured sense of humor, he often emceed local events and participated in San Marino’s City Fathers Musicals. Dan was resourceful with a vivid imagination: fashioning hydrofoils for water skis and a line of humorous, computer-themed T-shirts. He built elaborate kites which he flew at Lacy Park, in Hawaii, and from the slopes of Switzerland’s Jungfrau. He was a skilled outdoorsman, and played the drums his whole life – most recently with the Pasadena-based Maestros. And he loved to sail – showing his children the “ropes” in a dinghy on Lake Arrowhead and later cruising with his family in Maine and the Caribbean. He enjoyed traveling with his family and after retiring took extensive trips with Mary Lou to Europe, the Far East, and throughout the country. Dan was charming, honest, and unassuming; had a ready smile and quick wit. He was a compassionate, principled man with a zest for life. He was a consummate gentleman who was devoted to his family and a welcome presence to his many friends. Dan was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Lou, in 2014 after almost 73 years of marriage. He is survived by his children, David, Richard, Steven, and Christina, a daughter-in-law, son-in-law, five grandchildren, one great-granddaughter, and many nieces and nephews and their families.