OBITUARY

John Michael Downey

September 12, 1958October 14, 2020
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John Michael Downey was born September 12, 1958, in El Paso, Texas. Of Col. John James Downey and Mrs. Ella Henrietta Downey’s six children, he was the second-youngest and the only boy. He attended Hillside Elementary and then Cathedral High School, graduating in 1976.

A lifelong artist, John Michael painted the mural seen to this day in El Paso’s Union Depot train station and collaborated with Barbara Montoya on projects involving her late husband’s work. He served the University of Texas at El Paso in graphic design for 31 years, lending beauty and distinction to innumerable books, magazines, and other publications along with the most recent floor of the Don Haskins Center athletic arena.

John Michael loved the El Paso community, where he never met a stranger and was equally happy gathering to revel with family and friends or tinkering around his Sunset Heights home. His penchants for history, costumes, and festivals took him from Old West reenactments (some comedic and many staged by Leon Metz) to Renaissance fairs and backyard pirate banquets.

On October 14, 2020, John Michael was taken by cancer from his wife Melissa Downey; daughters Lea Downey Gallatin (34) and Mirella Downey (12); sisters Jane Burr, Kathleen Downey, Patricia Lunn, Aileen Czolgosz, and Mary Ella Swan; brothers-in-law Verner Dobler, Robert Lunn, Philip Czolgosz, and Michael Swan; son-in-law Russell and granddaughters Mia (6) and Miley (4), and countless beloved cousins, nieces, nephews, friends, and colleagues.

John Michael took comfort in his Catholic faith and in the role of adoring father that he said made him immortal. His unforgettable presence is El Paso’s great loss.

  • FAMILY

  • Melissa Thompson Downey, Wife
  • Lea Maureen Downey-Gallatin (Russell), Daughter
  • Mirella Hope Downey, Daughter
  • Jane Florence Burr, Sister
  • Kathleen Downey (Verner), Sister
  • Patricia Bridget Lunn (Bob), Sister
  • Aileen Sheila Czolgosz (Phil), Sister
  • Mary Ella Swan (Mike), Sister
  • John James Downey, Father (deceased)
  • Ella Henrietta Casey, Mother (deceased)
  • He is also survived by granddaughters Mia and Miley, extended family and friends.

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Services

21 October

Visitation

5:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Funeraria Del Angel Central

3839 Montana Avenue
El Paso, Texas 79903

LIVESTREAM SERVICE
21 October

Rosary

7:00 pm

Funeraria Del Angel Central

3839 Montana Avenue
El Paso, Texas 79903

22 October

Graveside Service

1:00 pm

Memory Gardens of the Valley

4900 McNutt Road
Santa Teresa, New Mexico

Memories

John Michael Downey

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Michael Narvaez

October 21, 2020

I met John when we were freshman at Cathedral High School in June 1972. I was blessed to grow up with John and I loved him as a brother. He was and will ALWAYS be forever in my heart. I consider myself so blessed to have been in his life, as he was in mine. My heart is heavy with sadness, but it gratifying knowing that he is in heaven. Love you always my dear friend John Michael! RIP

Linda Fensch

October 20, 2020

John was always happy to see you; genuinely happy. If you were fortunate enough to be his friend, you were always his friend. It didn’t matter if he hadn’t seen you in months, weeks or years. He was ready with a laugh and a hug –a rare gift these days. Godspeed Mr. Downey you will be missed.

Gillian Ford

October 18, 2020

My deepest condolences to the family of John Michael. I remember him at his wedding to Melissa and how happy and fun-loving he was. He always had a smile on his face. He will be sorely missed on earth, and I pray that he rests in eternal peace now in Heaven.

With love, and sharing in your grief,
Gillian Ford and family

Barbara Affonce

October 18, 2020

John Michael Downey was the son of my late brother Col. (Retired) John James Downey Jr., and Mrs. Ella Henrietta (Casey) Downey of El Paso Texas. They were and are a very close and loving family and I am sending the very deepest condolences to them all, my dear nieces and nephews. We have always been a family that has been in constant with each other and John Michael has a very long family history. John's father was the eldest of 11 children born to our Mother and Father and I am the youngest one. Please remember, as I will, the happiest times and the wonder family memories that happened during his life.
My love and prayers are with all our loved ones and their friends.
May God Bless us all. Love Aunt Barbara (Downey) Affonce and our Northeastern contingency of the Doweny Family of Massachusetts.

Anna Burr

October 18, 2020

I remember when he had a vwbug he took me and my brother for icecream and told us if the icecream spills we have to clean it up with our tongue we had so much fun being with our uncle John

Susie Sutherland

October 18, 2020

I will miss my cousin John at our family gatherings. I was so in awe of him and his amazing talent. Pre social media we relied on gatherings hosted by the Texas Downey’s to spend time with most of our 10 surviving aunts and uncles and many of the 40 of us in the “cousin pool”. We got updates and learned so much about John’s art career and contributions to the El Paso community—including the famous mural! Through Facebook our next generations of Downey’s are able to keep updated on our beloved family and carry on the tradition of gathering together. We will do this again in better times and celebrate John in true fashion. For now, as a fellow graphic designer, I will look to his work for inspiration. In his honor I will attend the annual Steampunk event held in my city. I will close my eyes and feel that last embrace and hear the words he spoke at our ancestor’s civil war medal of honor dedication. And on special occasions, I will wear the cowgirl boots I bought from the store John took us to on my first trip to Texas. Rest In Peace John

Franklin Munoz

October 16, 2020

So many many memories of such a great human being and a true gentleman. I am heartbroken knowing he is gone, but I will always smile at the thought of him and the period of time we shared together as colleagues and friends.
The world is a little less shiny tonight, but the stars a little bit brighter.

God Bless you John and your family.

Rachel Neff

October 16, 2020

I worked with John at UTEP and it was always a great conversation when we got to chatting during breaks. He will be missed. My condolences.

Chuck Fensch

October 16, 2020

Artist. Designer. Gunslinger. Steampunk. And just a damn fine human being.

John, even though we didn’t run into each other that much over the past 30 years of friendship, it was great to be able to finally work together as colleagues during the past two. I’m going to miss hearing your boots echo down the halls of Hertzog and seeing your evening message of “Good Night Kids” on my monitor. Thanks for the good conversations and greater memories.

Estrella Escobar

October 16, 2020

I was so very sad to hear of John’s passing. He was part of a wonderful creative group of professionals that have made UTEP a better place for thousands of our region’s students year after year. I was privileged to have John as an esteemed member of our team for many years, and was always impressed by his creativity, positive vision and wonderful demeanor. He was the best at what he did and a genuinely good person. I also loved running into him at Wiggs and seeing what a wonderful father he was. He beamed with his family. Phenomenal talent, great voice, genuine smile. He will be greatly missed. My deepest condolences to his family.

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Biography

John Michael Downey was born September 12, 1958, in El Paso, Texas. Of Col. John James Downey and Mrs. Ella Henrietta Downey’s six children, he was the second-youngest and the only boy. He attended Hillside Elementary and then Cathedral High School, graduating in 1976.

A lifelong artist, John Michael painted the mural seen to this day in El Paso’s Union Depot train station and collaborated with Barbara Montoya on projects involving her late husband’s work. He served the University of Texas at El Paso in graphic design for 31 years, lending beauty and distinction to innumerable books, magazines, and other publications along with the most recent floor of the Don Haskins Center athletic arena.

John Michael loved the El Paso community, where he never met a stranger and was equally happy gathering to revel with family and friends or tinkering around his Sunset Heights home. His penchants for history, costumes, and festivals took him from Old West reenactments (some comedic and many staged by Leon Metz) to Renaissance fairs and backyard pirate banquets.

On October 14, 2020, John Michael was taken by cancer from his wife Melissa Downey; daughters Lea Downey Gallatin (34) and Mirella Downey (12); sisters Jane Burr, Kathleen Downey, Patricia Lunn, Aileen Czolgosz, and Mary Ella Swan; brothers-in-law Verner Dobler, Robert Lunn, Philip Czolgosz, and Michael Swan; son-in-law Russell and granddaughters Mia (6) and Miley (4), and countless beloved cousins, nieces, nephews, friends, and colleagues.

John Michael took comfort in his Catholic faith and in the role of adoring father that he said made him immortal. His unforgettable presence is El Paso’s great loss.

Learn more about the Downey name

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