Thomas Jay Downing Jr of Brooklyn Park, passed away peacefully May 7, 2023. Tom was born to Tom Sr and Sylvia Downing on August 3, 1932 in Minneapolis. Tom Graduated from North High in Minneapolis in 1950. During High School he worked for Burlington Northern Railroad. After graduating, Tom was drafted to serve in the US Army as an MP and was based out of Ft. Riley, Kansas for a 2 year term. After the Army he resumed work for the railroad. He also worked part time for Harnard Lumber where he acquired an eye for a good piece of lumber. Later, He met his wife, Shirley, at a piano bar. They married on July 7, 1960. Together they built a house in Brooklyn park and raised 4 children. Tom retired after 47 years with Burlington Northern. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and trapping no matter the weather. His grandpa, Frank Armstrong, was the origin of the now famous Armstrong Ranch and Game Fair. He grew up helping his grandpa on the ranch and hanging out with his cousin Loral I Delaney. He always had a love for dogs and had many over the years. Tom loved to garden with his wife Shirley, enjoyed her home cooked meals, taking the kids and neighbors to Elm Creek Park Reserve to spend hot summer days swimming. He drove all over MN to fish different lakes and rivers and would take any of us kids that were willing to go along. He loved tinkering with cars and teaching us how to fix them. Every year he took us on a family vacation to a lake resort where he made sure the fish were biting and the beach was nice. Tom had hunting land with a cabin up north. He loved going hunting with his boys and hanging out with them working the land and building stuff. He shot his last deer at the age of 87. He also spent time Elk hunting in Colorado with his brother Dennis years back.
Tom was very safety conscious and Burlington Northern honored him for his safety record on the job. He went 26 years with no report of injury. He had many friends on the railroad and they would get together to meet up over the years.
Tom will be remembered as a man who lived his life to the fullest. He worked hard and played even harder. He loved spending his time with his family and having home cooked meals. Tom was a supporting husband to his wife’s many passions and hobbies, and he will be dearly missed by us all.
Tom is survived by his six children, Terri Jones, Dawn (Paul) Koester, Tim Downing, Leslie (Dave) Gaustad, Tanya (Joe) Walters, and Patrick (Kinnette) Downing. Grandchildren: Jessica (Austin) Wood, McKenzie Koester, Lauren Koester, Maddison Green, Nicole (Michael) Martin, Ruby Downing, Michael (Lynette) Gaustad, Lindsey Gaustad, Thomas Gaustad, Peter (Kayla) Gaustad, and Laura Gaustad, Jake Kimpling, Luke Kimpling, Ashley (James) Freeman, Alison (Jesse) Aguilar, MaKenzie (Dylan) Cherveny, Max Grover. great Grandchildren: Bauer and Charlie Wood, Sierra & Xavier Martin, Treashawn Kaye, Michael Hoberg, Graham Gaustad, Logan Gaustad, Crew Gaustad, Elsie, James jr, and Aiden Freeman, and Allesandra Grover. A Brother Dennis (TyAnne) Downing.
Preceded in death by his parents Tom Sr. And Sylvia, his wife Shirley Downing and his sister Patricia Brown.
Funeral service at Noon on Saturday, May 20, 2023 at Dare's Funeral Home, 805 Main St NW, Elk River, with visitation starting at 11:00 AM.
***A livestream can be accessed by pushing the blue button below this obituary and entering passcode 116598 shortly before the time of service.***
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