Cover photo for Kenneth Downend's Obituary

Kenneth Downend

Kenneth Downend

Kenneth W. Downend passed October 28, 2022 after an unexpected illness.  Ken was born February 5, 1924 at Caldwell, ID to William J. and Alta (McGuire) Downend and for the first six years of his life lived at the farms homesteaded by his grandfather in 1900 in the Arling (first called Arlington), and Long Valley, ID area. Initially attending school in Arling, he went to high school one year in Kuna to assist his grandparents.  He returned to the Valley, worked on the farm, and for neighbors, and in 1940 helped to build telephone lines in the area.  That same year, both Ken and his father were among the residents who were extras in the movie NorthWest Passage with Spencer Tracy, Robert Young, and Walter Brennan, filmed in McCall around Payette Lake.  In his almost 99 years of life, Ken felt he had opportunities that many didn’t get to have and although he worked all his life, he was a very generous person.  His mother was a teacher and he often credited her with giving him a love and appreciation for learning.

In 1941, he worked with the company building electricity lines in the area, which provided the first electricity to the area homes. In 1942, he worked for a short time to help with relocating the railroad, as the Cascade Dam began to be built.  The cities and homeowner’s land, including Arling that were affected were bought out, and Cascade Reservoir planned for development. Much later, as Tamarack Resort was being built are the "Arling Center" designed (2004), with a Grange, Schoolhouse, and Church, Ken was honored to have a Downend meeting room, in the Grange with many family pictures to bring to life some of those early years.

Graduation from high school saw Ken start at the College of Idaho in Caldwell, however the draft age for World War II was also lowered to 18, so his college was interrupted, he returned to the farm for a time prior to his entry to the Army 12th Calvary where he was in both the Philippines and Japan, as a medical/surgical tech and awarded several medals. Many years later, Ken was thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in the Honor Flight for World War II veterans to Washington D.C. in September 2016, and very grateful to the team of volunteers who came together to give their time to make that trip possible.

After the Army, Ken stayed mostly in Boise, working for several companies as Accountant, Sales and Office Manager.  He obtained his Business Certificate in Accounting from Grimms School of Business, was awarded Fellow Life Office Management (FLMI) and later began work with what became Continental Life and Accident Company in 1952, where he remained until retirement as Controller/Vice President Administration in 1983.

Ken was also very involved in civic activities and community events, beginning with the Boise Elks #310 in 1949.  He served in many offices, local, as well as state; committee member, Trustee, Historian; became an Honorary Life Member in 1985, and in the Hall of Honor, State Elks Association in 1990.  He served as Chairman of the Elks Rehabilitation Hospital Board twice (1990-1995, 1998-2004) and volunteered at the hospital for many years.

He was involved in beginning the West Boise Sewer District in 1975 and remaining on the Board for many years.  He loved and was honored to work with Boise Music Week (President 1960), Junior Chamber of Commerce, Junior Achievement (President 1963), AARP Health Advocacy Director State of Idaho (1993 – 1997), AARP Tax Aide Director State of Idaho (1997 – 1998), Residential Care of the Elderly, Health and Welfare (1996 – 2006) as well as many other organizations, and committees.

Ken and Jo were married on January 2, 1948 at the First Presbyterian Church in Boise where they remained active members for many years.  They subsequently made their church home at Boise Friends until COVID curtailed many of his activities.  Ken and Jo had been married for over 70 years at the time of her death.  They moved to their present home in 1955. While the original home was quite small, they had several remodeling projects over the years and purchased additional land so they could have horses, cattle, dogs, cats, chickens and Jo's two greenhouses where she grew and sold geraniums and other flowers to both stores and individuals.  Both Jo and their daughter Kelli loved animals, especially working with their horses.  Ken supported Jo in her Woodworking projects and Clock Shoppe, and was involved in PTA, and assisted with Girl Scouts as needed for Kelli.

Ken loved to travel, and since Jo hadn't had much opportunity to travel before she met Ken, among their other travels to Canada, Europe, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and cruising Alaska, the Caribbean, and the Panama Canal, they set a goal after being married to visit every state capitol in the United States.  In 1993, on the trip to see the final state capital, Jo had a massive stoke in Jacksonville, FL, being completely paralyzed and unable to speak.  After surgery and three weeks there, Ken and Kelli were able to bring her back to the Idaho Elks Rehabilitation Hospital. Ken was her primary caregiver for 23 years, and they continued some of their favorite travels to the Oregon Coast and Lake Tahoe, as well as visiting friends before she moved to Emerson House in 2016.

Ken's other love was football, primarily the Green Bay Packers, who he supported from their inception (through the great years, and not so great...) and the Boise State Broncos, through their various levels and conferences.  Attending one of their Fiesta Bowls was a special highlight for him!

Our family thanks the dedicated staff members at Grace Assisted Living - Englefield who welcomed him to their community, and the nursing and medical teams at St. Luke’s Hospital for their dedication and support to him.

Ken was preceded in death by his parents, William J. and Alta Downend, and his wife Jo M. Downend. He is survived by his daughter Kelli Downend Campbell, granddaughter Jessica, great-grandson Brycen Cody.  Ken will be remembered for his warmth, friendly nature, willingness and determination to help all who needed him and his care of his family.

Services will be held at Alden Waggoner, 5400 Fairview Ave, Boise, Wednesday, November 9, 2022 at 1:00 pm.  If desired, in lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the,, or CancerResearch.Org.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Kenneth Downend, please visit our flower store.


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