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Jeremiah John Downey


1940 - 2015 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Jeremiah John Downey Obituary
Jeremiah John Downey 1940 - 2015 Missoula, Montana Jeremiah John Downey, a long-time high school teacher and coach, passed away on Thursday, November 19th, in Missoula, Montana. Born in Butte on November 24, 1940, Jerry was the third of twelve children born to Alice Coles Downey and Patrick Downey. He was an identical twin to his brother Thomas Robert Downey who preceded him in death. His sister Loretta Downey McCarthy also preceded him in death. He is survived by his wife, Mary Kay Moriarity Downey and his daughter, Kiara Downey, nine remaining siblings and their families. Jerry's dedication to education and athletics garnered him admirers and accolades throughout all 50 states. He was a leader in both college and high school sports for 49 years, beginning his career in Montana as a coach at Butte Central where, in 1968 he coached the school's state championship cross-country team. In 1970 he coached wrestling at the University of Montana and in 1972 he was part of the U of M coaching team that won the university's only Big Sky track and field championship. In 2004, he was officially recognized as one of the top cross-country coaches in the United States, an award voted on by his peers. Throughout his long career as the head coach of cross-country and track and field teams at St. Augustine High School in San Diego, his teams won numerous CIF championships and many of his athletes achieved All-American status. He was inducted into the Sports Halls of Fame in Butte, Montana, San Diego, California, and at the University of Montana. He was a lifelong learner who graduated from Butte Central High School in 1959. He received a BA from Gonzaga University in 1965 and an MA from the University of Montana in 1973. He earned his JD from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 1984. Jerry's gifts as a leader were evident in his patience, his loyalty, and his remarkable ability to see the positive potential in everyone. At sports awards ceremonies, he regularly praised the least talented athletes for their resilience and for the improvements they showed throughout the season. He always arrived early to prepare for a competition or an event, and he was often the last person to leave the field. His gifts as a teacher are reflected in the honor and respect shown to him by countless former students and colleagues. He will be remembered for his quiet, deep, funny, coaching ways. He spread love without judgment and he brought out the best in everyone whether it was a person's physical, emotional, or intellectual value, it was celebrated and honored by this kind and loving man. Jerry's life was celebrated at St. Francis Xavier Church in Missoula, Montana on November 25th. In lieu of flowers, Jerry would be best honored by donations made in his name to St. Augustine's High School in San Diego.
Published in The San Diego Union Tribune on Nov. 29, 2015
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