John F. “Johnny” Downes, 89, of Gumboro, Del., passed away in the care of Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford, Del., on May 30, 2020. He was born in Bethel, Del., on Feb. 13, 1931, to the late Horace Downes and Hazel King Downes.

Downes served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War; married his sweetheart, Rosalie; and took up farming. He led a life of service to the community and to his church. He was a founding charter member of the Gumboro Volunteer Fire Company, where he served for 65 years. In addition, Downes was an ambulance driver and served another 20-plus years as a member of the Delaware State Fire Police, becoming a captain. He served as a chief engineer in the fire company.

He was a people-person, a dedicated Christian man who loved everybody. He was a member of Gumboro United Methodist Church and served as a lay leader. One of his hobbies was participating in the “council of elders” who met regularly at McDonald’s to solve the problems of the world. He also loved gardening and playing the autoharp, and he would help anyone in need. Most of all, he was devoted to his family and his community, loving both dearly.

In addition to his parents, Downes was preceded in death by his wife, Rosalie, and a brother, James Downes. He is survived by his son, Chester W. Downes and his wife, Vicki, of Gumboro; a grandson, Danny Stewart; a great-grandson, Colt Stewart; his nephew, Michael Redmond and his wife, Janice; a great-niece, Kaitlyn Redmond, and a great-nephew, Brayden Redmond; and many extended family members and friends.

A time of visitation and viewing will be held at the Gumboro (Del.) Volunteer Fire Company, Station 79 at 37030 Millsboro Highway on Saturday, June 6, 2020, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. During the visitation, adherence to the directives from the Department of Public Health will be observed. Attendees must wear a mask and practice social distancing. There will be a limit to how many guests may be in the fire hall at one time, but as some depart, others may enter.

A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. with the Rev. Robert Hudson and the Rev. Leza Smack officiating. Seating will be limited to 30 percent of normal capacity, with social distancing. Interment will follow in the Millsboro (Del.) Cemetery. Flowers are welcomed, or memorial contributions may be made to the Gumboro Vol. Fire Company; 37030 Millsboro Hwy.; Millsboro, DE 19966, or to Gumboro U.M. Church, c/o Edith Rickards; 34922 Pear Tree Rd.; Millsboro, DE 19966. Condolences may be sent online at