Clifford “Cliff” Eugene Downing

Heaven opened the Gates July 13, 2021, for Clifford “Cliff” Downing, 78 of rural Lawrence. After a long illness he passed peacefully with family by his side. Born at home 1/3/1943, in the Clinton/Lone Star community, to Elmer Downing & Iva (Hasty) Downing. Cliff attended Apple Pie Grade School through 8th grade, Central Junior High School, one year at Overbrook High School & graduated from Lawrence High School in 1962. Soon after graduation he entered the U.S. Navy. He was a Navy Plane Captain and honorably discharged in 1966. He was employed by the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant from 1966 to1973 and then the Kmart distribution Center for 28 yrs. In his retirement and at the urging of Dr Charles Yockey he drove a School bus in the Clinton/Lone Star area. This was something he took great pride in & he had a special bond with the students & they with him.
As a child he loved roaming the nearby area now known as Rockhaven Park at Clinton Lake. A hike in the woods with him was always full of surprises, fun & an opportunity to learn things you wouldn’t learn otherwise. He began singing & performing at the young age of five. He learned to play guitar with the help of his older brother, Leslie, who let him accompany him to area dances in the Clinton/Lone Star area and he also called square dances there while still in High School. As a student at CJHS he and friends would sing and play in the school auditorium during the lunch hour, and he was a part of several bands during his Jr High and High School yrs. In 1972 he started the Cliff Downing with BADNEWS band, comprised of long-time friends & family. He and the band were fortunate to play just about any kind of venue or occasion imaginable and opened for several Nashville stars at Shiloh, in Lawrence, and other shows in the Topeka and KC area. He had an amazing ability to memorize lyrics of songs and much of the time never referred to sheet music. The band retired in 1992 but came back together to play for the closing night at Shiloh April 30, 1994.
Cliff & Verna were able to help her parents who owned & operated the Lawrence Skate Center and then occasionally, once the rink was converted to a country night club, Shiloh. So many fond family memories at both the rink and Shiloh.
In 1976 Cliff & Verna moved to the country, just 1/8 mile from where Cliff was born, to build their family home with the help of Verna’s Dad, Vernon. Here Cliff planted trees endlessly and dabbled in herb gardening. It was not unusual for him to prepare holiday and special occasion meals. With his fun cookie cutter collection he enjoyed making and intricately decorating the cookies and making time for an array of candies too.
Cliff was a 32° Master Mason with Doric Lodge #83 and a member of the Abdallah Shrine Temple (Oriental Band unit)in Overland Park, Ks.
Clifford is survived by his wife of 52 yrs., Verna Kay (Oelschlaeger) Downing, their daughter, Eryn Ridinger (Justin) & grandson’s, Camden & Trenton Ridinger of Eudora, father-in-law, Vernon Oelschlaeger of Lawrence, brother Marlen Downing (Carol) of Prescott, AZ and several nieces & nephews & great nieces & nephews.
Preceding him in death are his parents, his sisters, Arletta Flory and Lois Gaines, brother Leslie Downing and mother-in-law, Edith Douglas Oelschlaeger.
A very special thanks to Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association, Meagan Flick, Mickey Dick and others with VNA for your help and support!
Visitation will be from 6pm to 8pm, Monday July 19th, 2021, at Warren McElwain Mortuary. In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to Doulas County Visiting Nurses, Association, Clinton Presbyterian Church or The Lawrence Humane Society. Please send donations in care of Warren McElwain Mortuary, 120 W 13th St, Lawrence KS, 66044.

17 Condolences

  1. Judy (Hanenkrat) Smith on July 15, 2021 at 11:40 am

    Verna Kay,
    I’m so sorry to read that Cliff has passed away. Eric and I have fond memories of going to hear the band playand many times dancing at the Shiloh. You and all the family are in our thoughts and prayers.

  2. Connie Meyer on July 15, 2021 at 11:50 am

    Verna Kay,
    So sorry to hear of Clifford’s passing. Larry and I enjoyed his company so much and so many times. We loved hearing him sing and could always tell how much he enjoyed it. We were so grateful to be the recipients of his cinnamon candy at Christmas. I have many fond memories of our time shared together. He was a sweet man. May he rest in peace.

  3. Dennis & Shari Meyer on July 15, 2021 at 11:52 am

    Verna Kay & Eryn,
    We are so sorry to hear about Cliff. What a great guy he was, and that smile. He had such a fulfilled life and was loved by many. Sending you much love and hugs. Thinking of you both.

  4. Barb Ball on July 15, 2021 at 7:22 pm

    Verna Kay and Family, Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. Floyd Hiatt on July 15, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    Verna Kay,
    Floyd and I are so sorry to hear of Cliff’s passing. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Floyd and Jenny Hiatt

  6. Gary Lee Wheeler on July 15, 2021 at 9:35 pm

    Verna Kay, so sorry to hear about Cliff, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

  7. Joyce Elliott ( Howell) on July 16, 2021 at 3:58 am

    Marlen I am so sorry to hear of Cliff’s passing. I remember hearing him play in the band when I was younger. This is a great lose to the world of music. He was so devoted in helping people and now he will help God . My prayers are with you.

  8. Kevin and Dana Wingert on July 16, 2021 at 7:55 am

    Verna, we are heartbroken to hear Cliff has passed. What a great man and what a great life he lived. You, Erin and the rest of your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Until we meet him again, RIP Cliff.

  9. Christine Wesley on July 16, 2021 at 4:28 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss. I enjoyed listening to Cliff play at the Clinton Museum. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  10. GEORGE & CHERYL HUNSINGER on July 16, 2021 at 10:16 pm

    What a great guy. Danced many times to him singing. He worked with my dad many years, and my dad had nothing but good to say about him. Maybe he is singing to my dad, and the rest of the Kmart gang. He will be missed. You all are in our thoughts and prayers.

  11. IRIS L MENDELL on July 17, 2021 at 8:09 pm

    So Sorry to the Downing family for the loss of your love one!

  12. Suzanne Ashley on July 18, 2021 at 8:48 am

    So very sorry to here of his passing. May his memory be a balm to your heart.

  13. Shirley Shirk Anderson on July 18, 2021 at 10:42 pm

    Verna, I was sorry to hear that Cliff has passed away. I enjoyed his music. You and your daughter are in my prayers. RIP Cliff. Now you can entertain our loved ones that have gone before us.

  14. Alan Christie on July 20, 2021 at 8:11 am

    My sincere condolences ???? in learning of the passing of Cliff. Although it was not mentioned, as I remember it , Cliff was instrumental in the beginning of Junior Achievement in Lawrence Kansas in 1974.
    He was an advisor in our Junior Achievement Company sponsored by Kresege / K-Mart Distribution.
    Rest In Peace Cliff ~ You will be sorely missed by so many in Lawrence and surrounding areas.

  15. Steve and Nancy Dye on July 20, 2021 at 12:31 pm

    Nancy and I are so, so sorry to hear about Cliff. Even though he’s with Jesus, he’ll always be with you as well. We live you

  16. Sarah Harris on July 21, 2021 at 9:27 am

    Downing family,
    I am so sorry to hear of Cliff’s passing. He was a beloved man and I have so many fond memories of Shiloh, time spent with your family at home and a wonderful friendship with Eryn. May the Lord give you peace during this time.

  17. Atticus Dunlap on June 16, 2022 at 8:41 am

    I wasn’t family but he was always like a second father to me, he was my bus driver from 1st to 5th grade, there were lots of mean bullies on the bus who would make fun of me and cliff saw it and let me sit in the front right next to him, he would sing songs and was an amazing guy, he will always be in my heart as my favorite bus driver, May he be at peace now.

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