Published February 1, 2019

MELROSE — William S. “Bill” Downie, 87, of Melrose, passed away peacefully while surrounded by his family on Friday, January 25, 2019 at his home. 

Bill was born on February 20, 1931 in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia on Cape Breton Island, one of eight children of the late William M. and Jane (Smith) Downie, originally of Scotland. He grew up in Sydney Mines until the family moved to Somerville in 1946. Bill graduated from Somerville Technical School in 1948.

After school, Bill enlisted in the United States Air Force on February 2, 1951 and served honorably as an aircraft mechanic during the Korean War. He worked mainly on F-86 Sabre’s and F-94B Starfires. He was honorably discharged in 1955. Bill carried his love of aviation with him long after his time in the Air Force.

On March 14, 1957, Bill went out on a blind date with Amelia “Emily” DiBeneditto, and they fell in love. They got married on September 26, 1957, and went on to share 61 amazing years together.

Bill had a love for cars. He knew them inside and out, and took great joy in repairing them. He started out as an auto mechanic for a local garage before moving on to Olsen Cadillac where he eventually was promoted to Service Manager. He truly had a passion for what he did.

Bill loved his family dearly. He was very active in their lives, attending as many functions of theirs as he could. He was a strong, quiet, by the book gentleman, and you always knew where you stood with him. He took great joy in watching his children and grandchildren learn to take an engine apart and put it back together in running order. He felt it important for them to learn so not to have to rely on anyone else.

He had a great love of Scotland and was proud of his Scottish roots. He traveled a few times to Scotland with his brother to visit where his parents and family were from. He was also proud of his Nova Scotia roots. The family took yearly trips to visit where he had grown up. He loved it there.

Other interests of Bill’s included wood working. He had a full shop and made many items for friends and family. His love for hockey was deep. He taught his children to skate at an early age. He played himself, and coached youth hockey. His two favorite professional teams were the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens.

Bill was a kind and caring individual who fiercely loved his wife and family, and was tremendously proud of his Air Force service. He taught his family many valuable skills that they will carry with them throughout their lives. He will be deeply missed.

Bill is the beloved husband of Amelia “Emily” (DiBeneditto) Downie with whom he shared 61 years of marriage. Devoted father of William D. Downie and his wife Jo-Ann of Woburn, Mark A. Downie of North Reading, Robert B. Downie and his wife Marie of Woburn, and Douglas J. Downie and his wife Kristen of Burlington. Dear brother of David S. Downie and his wife Jane of Arlington, the late Jeanette McCartney, John Downie, Elizabeth Downie, Jane Glover, James Downie, and Robert Downie. Cherished grandfather of Lindsey, Michael, Daniel, and David Downie. Also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.

Relatives and friends gathered in honor and remembrance of Bill’s life during visiting hours at the Robinson Funeral Home, 809 Main St., Melrose, on Tuesday, Jan. 29, and for his funeral service. Interment with U.S. Air Force honors at Lakeside Cemetery, Wakefield.

Gifts in Bill’s memory may be made to Shriner’s Hospital for Children, 51 Blossom St., Boston MA 02114, or Wounded Warrior Project PO Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675-8517.

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