JOHN GELSTON DOWNER

John Gelston Downer, a highly regarded Doctor of Medicine, of Lexington and Ridgeland, passed away on December 16, 2016 while at the home that he and his dear wife Pamela shared.  John was three days shy of his 76th birthday and was excitedly awaiting the arrival of his family for the holidays.
Born on December 19, 1940 to the late Kenneth (Pete) and Connie Downer, John enjoyed a happy and idyllic childhood in Acona.  As the first child of a large extended family, John was prized and doted upon by aunts and uncles.  Along with his younger brother, Don, John spent his days playing at their father’s country store, reading encyclopedias for pleasure, and enjoying their mother’s homemade cooking.
John excelled in academia from an early age and furthered his education at Ole Miss.  Following college graduation there, he attended The University of Mississippi Medical Center.  With his medical degree in hand, John began his first job at Tylertown Hospital.
In 1967, like many other young men, John eagerly answered his call of duty and was sent to Vietnam where his medical expertise proved to be invaluable as he worked performing maxillofacial surgeries on wounded soldiers.  It was during this same time that his first child, Beth, was born.  After faithfully serving his country and being discharged with honor, he settled in Fort Benning, GA where he welcomed his second child, Rebecca.
In 1969, John found himself homesick and decided that he had been away from Holmes County for long enough.  He moved his family to Lexington, started his private family practice, Downer Clinic, and expanded his family with the births of John, Jr. and Suzanne.
In 1978, John married the love of his life, Pamela, and welcomed two more children, Benjamin and Theresa.  Together, John and Pam proved to be an extraordinary team, navigating life by each others’ side.  John was known to be loving, smart, witty, and a little naughty.  He enjoyed cooking, reading historical books, watching any show with a pretty actress, and eating a big bowl of ice cream until a nagging daughter switched it out with Greek yogurt.  John was bigger than life and spending time with him never left a person bored.
With incredible hard work on John’s part, Downer Clinic grew to become a center of excellence in an otherwise medically under-served area.  John believed primary care in his home county to be his professional calling in life and he tirelessly served the people of Holmes County for 40 years.  He remained challenged and enthused about the nature of his work because he enjoyed seeing a wide array of ailments which he treated with compassionate care.  John also found great opportunity to socialize with the people of Holmes County in doing his work, as his exceptional bedside manner was appreciated by all.  This was reinforced by the array of gifts from the garden as well as homemade foods from John’s patients.  John made sure such gratitude and kindness never went to waste. Though he retired in 2009, John steadfastly followed his patients’ lives long after he stopped practicing.
John was proceeded in death by his parents, Kenneth Farr Downer and Connie Gelston Downer.  He is survived by his loving and devoted wife, Pamela; brother Don Downer and wife Jackie; daughter Beth York; daughter Rebecca Amador and husband Arturo; son John Downer, Jr. and wife Julie; daughter Suzanne Westfall and husband Jeremy; son Benjamin Downer and partner Jennifer Cartwright; and daughter Theresa Claypool and husband Bo.  John is also survived by twelve, incredibly loved grandchildren: Elizabeth Nichols, Connor Westfall, Harrison Mohead, Jack Downer, McKinley Mohead, Callie Claire York, Riley Westfall, Mateo Amador, James Downer, Adeline York, Ella Amador and John Douglas Westfall.
Visitation took place at the First Baptist Church of Lexington on Sunday, December 18, at 1:00 p.m.  A service followed at 3:00 p.m.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Friends of Children’s Hospital.

1 Comment

  1. Victoria Ganderson on December 26, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    Dr. Downer will truly be missed by the many lives he had touched during his time at Downer Clinic/Lexington Primary Care. Being a patient of his, I personally have not found another Doctor with such care and compassion for his work and patients.

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