John Upshaw Downs

Published 3:00 pm Monday, September 13, 2010

John Upshaw Downs Sr. of Tryon and Charleston, S.C., entered into paradise on September 9, 2010.

He was born on February 7, 1932, the only son of Ora Upshaw Downs and Dr. John Ayman Downs. He attended Porter Military Academy in Charleston. During World War II he attended Athens High School in Athens, Ga., and afterwards, Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va. There he constructed a fight ring, resurrected the sport of boxing, and staged Fight Nights. At Episcopal, he was first declaimer, first debater, and first recipient of the Williams Fellows Page Memorial Poetry Prize. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he was a wrestler and a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity.

He served in the United States Navy during the Korean War.

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After the war, he entered the insurance business, where he remained for 55 years. He was a life member of the Million Dollar Round Table of the National Association of Life Underwriters and a member of the Round Tables Quarter Century Club. He helped found the industrys professional designation for health insurance, Charter RHU. He was president of Carolina Multimark Corp. and the Physicians Agency. Most recently, he became case coordinator for the medicolegal firm, forensX, LLC.

He served as a trustee of Porter Gaud School and president of the schools alumni association. He served for nine years on the board of St. Lukes Hospital in Tryon and served as board treasurer. He was on the board of Foothills Medical Center and a founding member of the Palmer and Jervey Society. He was a founder and life member of the Polk County Gun Club, a member of the Carolina Yacht Club in Charleston, and a life member of the Hibernian Society. He was past president of the Society of the Bell and a member of St. Phillips Episcopal Church in Charleston.

He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Merle Rippy Downs, and six children: Arnall Downs of Gainesville, Fla.; Julia Bambi Downs of Charleston, S.C.; John Upshaw Downs Jr. of Charleston, S.C.; Dr. Jamie Downs of Savannah, Ga.; Burwell Smith of Avery County, N.C.; and Clare Boone Smith of Tryon; and ten grandchildren.

McFarland Funeral Chapel, Tryon, is in charge of the services and burial will be at 11 a.m., Monday, September 13, 2010 in the family cemetery in Covington, Ga.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be sent to Hospice of the Carolina Foothills, 130 Forest Glenn Dr. Columbus, N.C. 28722.

An online guest register is available at