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James Chapin Downey

James Chapin Downey passed away Thursday, June 20, 2013.

He was born in Riverton, Fremont, Wyo., on December 4, 1930, to William Kenneth Downey and Marguerite Harriet Chapin, the oldest of four children. He attended schools in Riverton and Lander, Wyo., and in Roosevelt, Utah. He graduated from the Riverton, Wyo., high school in 1949.

He married his childhood sweetheart, Carolyn Ruth Snyder, on March 17, 1951, at the First Methodist Church in Lander, Wyo.. He attended Colorado State College of Education in Greeley, Colorado, for one year and then transferred to Utah State Agricultural College (USAC) in Logan, Utah, from which he graduated in Welding Engineering in June 1954. He was also a graduate of the Air Force ROTC program at Utah State.

After graduation from college, he and his wife moved to Auburn, Wash., where he was employed by the Boeing Company from 1954 to 1969 in the Tool Production Planning department and in Welding Research, where he developed the procedures for fusion welding of titanium, chrome nickel alloys and aluminum dip brazing. He also developed a patent for an in-place tube welding torch and created the coating which protects the space shuttles from burning while going through the ozone layer.

He moved to Rigby in March 1969 and was employed at the INEL site for different contractors for 19 years. He also taught three different years for faculty on sabbatical at Ricks College in the welding and manufacturing engineering departments as well as teaching in the engineering department for one year at Utah State University. He was asked by Texas A&M during the summer of 1980 to develop the curriculum for the teaching of welding and metallurgy.

While living in Rigby from 1969 to 1982, he served on the Jefferson County School Board for six years.

He was active in the LDS church since he and his wife joined the church in 1962. He was a bishop and high councilman on the Ricks College campus and served in several bishoprics in Auburn, Wash., and in Rigby.

While living in Auburn, he was called on a stake mission to work with the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation, where he was instrumental in creating the first Indian Seminary program for the reservation. He loved working with the Indian people and wanted to serve them. He also worked in the Idaho Falls temple for a short time.

He served a mission with his wife as the first directors of the six-stake Rexburg Family History Center from 1997 to 2002. Upon moving back to Rigby, he served in the Rigby Stake Family History Center until his health prevented his doing so.

He was very conscientious in doing his own family history work. In December 2011, he was awarded the Modern Pioneer Service Award from the National Society of the Sons of Utah Pioneers, Upper Snake River Valley Chapter, for his contribution in initiating the photographing of headstones in cemeteries in Madison and Jefferson counties.

He enjoyed working with his hands, doing leatherwork and photography and enjoyed planting and harvesting a garden each year.

He loved all of his family and looked forward to each time he could be with them -- visiting in their homes as well as them visiting in his. Even after several strokes in 2009 and a severe heart attack in March 2011, he retained his sense of humor and constantly told his wife how much he loved her. He was a great example to his entire family.

He lived in Rexburg for 20 years and moved back to Rigby in November 2001.

He was preceded in death by his parents; one granddaughter, Jessica Lyn Downey; and one great-granddaughter, Naomi Ruth Tennant.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years; and two daughters, Cheryl L. (Mike) Tennant of Fruita, Colo., and Barbara L. (Kent) Derricott of Bountiful, Utah; two sons, Ralph M. (Diane) Downey of Pueblo, Colo., and Brian W. (Danette) Downey of Rexburg; 21 grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren with four more on the way; and four sisters, Dorothy Downey of Amarillo, Texas, Sheila Whitlock of Greybull, Wyo., Donna Cielinski of Victor, Mont., and Kathleen Mathews of Parker, Colo.

The family wishes to express their appreciation to Aspen Home Health and Hospice, especially to nurse Janell Campbell and her associates, for their excellent service to their husband, father and grandfather.

Services are being held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 25, at the Rigby LDS Stake Center, 258 W. First North. The family will receive friends from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday and from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Tuesday before services, both at the church. Burial will be in Rigby Pioneer Cemetery. Services are under the direction of Eckersell Memorial Chapel in Rigby.

Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.eckersellfuneralhome.com.

Family Tribute



Funeral Home

Eckersell Funeral Home
101 West Main St.  Rigby, ID 83442
208-745-6604

Published in Post Register on June 23, 2013
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