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Passing of GVFC charter member John F. "Johnny" Downes

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

It is with heavy hearts that we, The Gumboro Volunteer Fire Company, announce the passing of one of our founding fathers. Charter Member and active Fire Police Captain John F (Johnny) Downes passed away peacefully on Saturday, May 30, 2020, at the age of 89.

Johnny started his fire service career in December of 1954 as one of our charter members after serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Johnny was a member of our first engine committee, as well as our building committee that laid the foundation for our current existence. Throughout his fire service career, Johnny served as our longtime Chief Engineer, Fire Police Officer, and most recently our Fire Police Captain. Not only was he one of our top responders throughout his 65 ½ years of active service, he also never hesitated to respond outside of our fire district to assist any fire company when dealing with an emergency or a community event. Johnny never met a stranger in the volunteer fire service and faithfully attended all of the SCVFA and Sussex County Chief’s/Fire Police monthly meetings, along with DVFA meetings.

A Fireman’s Funeral will be held on Saturday, June 6, 2020. A viewing will take place at the Gumboro Volunteer Fire Company located at 37030 Millsboro Hwy, Millsboro, DE from 10:00am to 1:00pm. At the conclusion of the viewing, a procession will take place, carrying Johnny on his beloved Engine 79-1 to his final resting place at Millsboro Cemetery.

Any fire companies and/or fire apparatus wishing to participate in the procession please contact President Rick DeFelice (302-542-8030), Fire Chief Billy Bant (302-542-6738) or Deputy Chief Corey Davis (302-448-0837). Fire apparatus staging will be on Pear Tree RD west of Millsboro Hwy. Fire companies participating should prepare to be in the staging area by 12:00pm. We will be following the current COVID-19 guidelines, but encourage participation in the funeral procession.

Please keep the Downes family in your thoughts and prayers.

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