Orville Downer was born in Roscoe, South Dakota May 10, 1937 to William and Elodie Downer. He moved with his family to Salem on his 12th birthday. He attended Buena Crest Elementary and Salem Academy, where he graduated in 1955. He married Geri Gale in 1958 and they had five children. After a long illness, he died on Feb. 5, 2015 at his home.
Orville was an entrepreneur in the agriculture industry, including farming, custom harvesting, custom fertilizing, hydraulic sales, and grain bin sales. In January 1963 he joined the Brooks Fire Department. By the end of that year he was promoted to captain and after another year assistant chief. In 1968 Brooks merged with Four Corners and together they became Marion County Fire District No. 1. Orville was deputy dhief of the North Battalion and led the district in that capacity for 27 years. He resigned in 1995 to serve on the Marion County Fire Board of Directors until posting his resignation 20 years later, in January of this year.
Orville loved to serve the community and was on several boards. He had a passion for snowmobiling, stock car racing, and ran a dirt track for three summers in Yreka, Calif. He was member of the Capital Park Wesleyan Church from 1949 through 1973 and the Salem First Church of the Nazarene until his death. Orville had many community friendships and had several close life-long friends. His home was open and became a place of welcome…sometimes people just stayed. He had a special place in the farming community of the mid-Willamette Valley. He was often called upon in crisis and responded day or night to those with a need.
Orville was preceded in death by his father, mother and sister Joyce Downer Imel. Survivors include his wife Geri, sister Velera Vreugdenhil, (Ralph) of Puyallup, Wash., children Kathi Kinnaman (Greg) of Hillsboro, Michelle Truax (Tony) of Buckley, Wash., Steve Downer of Brooks, Sandi Beck (Doug) of Aurora and Mike Downer (Tiina) of Keizer, eight grandsons, three granddaughters and four great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2 p.m. at Salem First Church of the Nazarene. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to Hope Station care of First Church of the Nazarene or Union Gospel Mission