Cover photo for Robert Richard Downie's Obituary
1922 Bob Downie 2023

Robert Richard Downie

August 18, 1922 — May 6, 2023

San Diego

Our beloved "Bo" Bob Downie, passed away gently in his sleep in the early morning of May 6th, 2023 at the age of 100 with his beloved wife, Nellie, at his side. Just like the song, My Way, he truly did it "his way" to the very end. Bob was a born entertainer and encyclopedia of song and story.  He was born in Colon, Panama to Richard Dariens Everard Downie and Beryl Loie Vaz. He lost his father at the age of 10 and began working to help support his family.

As a young man in Panama during WWII, he worked at a civilian U.S. war aircraft maintenance facility. As the story goes, they weren't going to hire him because of his small stature, but he convinced his boss that his smaller frame and hands could fit into very small spaces on aircraft that other, bigger workers couldn't. After the war, he immigrated to the U.S. and worked as a guitar player in numerous bands across the country. He was so talented with the guitar that, at the age of 24, renowned guitarist Django Reinhardt asked Bo to sit in with him at a gig during his 1946 US tour.   First and foremost a professional musician, he supplemented his musical career by working for state disability for over 25 years.

He married the love of his life, Nellie, in 1989 and together, they had 38 very fun and music-filled years together, going to Kauai annually, enjoying the San Diego coastal lifestyle while living at the now iconic De Anza Cove. He was a consummate guitar player and could play any stringed instrument on command. A happy memory is Sunday afternoons at La Tapitia Restaurant in Escondido with his close friend Louie Martinez, playing the music they both loved. He loved to haggle and visited his favorite pawn shops, thrift stores, and guitar stores weekly, such as "Moze Guitars" and Gary's Pawn Shop, to name but a few. He would buy broken musical instruments, restore them and resell them for a profit. He loved the art of the deal and had a knack for it.  He also loved gemstones and jewelry and could spot a good piece from miles away. 

A talented musician, craftsman, and businessman, he was also a kind and generous grandfather to his grandson Jay, helping him learn to play the guitar, and helping fund his college education. Grandpa Bob was always willing to help, listen and give advice when Jay asked. He will be dearly missed by his Familia and friends.

He is predeceased by his beloved son "Bobby Jr." and survived by his wife Nellie, stepchildren Daniel, Kellie, son-in-law Bill and grandson Jay.  A musical memorial is being planned at the San Diego Musicians Union Hall June 18, 2023, from 12pm-3pm. More details to follow.

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


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