Rev. Russell G. Downs

September 01, 1937 ‒ April 16, 2018

Mount Vernon, Ohio

Rev. Russell G. Downs, age 80, of Mount Vernon finished his race on Monday morning, April 16, 2018 at home with his daughters by his side. He was born on September 1, 1937 in Kalamazoo, Michigan to the late Gilbert and Edna (Reedy) Downs.  He grew up in Johnsville, Ohio where he was a graduate of Johnsville High School, class of 1955.

Russell graduated from Olivet Nazarene University in 1961 with a degree in Theology. He was involved with many offices in the Church of the Nazarene.  He pastored in the Church of the Nazarene for over 41 years in Illinois, Ohio and West Virginia.  Most recently, before he retired in 2011, he was visitation Pastor at Mount Vernon First Church of the Nazarene.  His greatest joy was to tell others about Jesus.  He had a gift for encouragement.  Visiting others and sharing the love of Jesus was his passion and his calling.  He counted it a privilege to be a pastor, husband, father and grandfather.  His grandchildren lovingly called him “Pa”.  He was a blessing and encouragement to his family and everyone who knew him.

Russell is survived by his loving wife, Donna R. (Hester) Downs, whom he married on August 21, 1959; his daughters, Nita (Dana) Riffle, Joan (Steve) Gocking; his grandchildren, Danae Riffle, Darcie Riffle, Dalayna Riffle, Dylan Riffle and Nathan Gocking; his brother Fred (Carol) Downs; his brother-in-law Jerry Whittington; and several nieces and nephews.

In addition to his parents, Russell was preceded in death by his brother Marvin (Marrbell) Downs; and his sisters, Mildred (Dan) Mitchell and Rosalie Whittington.

The family will receive friends from 10 a.m. until the time of a memorial service at Noon on Thursday, May 31, 2018 at the First Church of Nazarene, 807 Coshocton Ave, Mount Vernon.  Rev. Russ Gumm will officiate.

Memorial contributions may be made to: Mount Vernon First Church of the Nazarene Ministries.

To share a memory or send the family an expression of sympathy, visit:

The Dowds-Snyder Funeral Home is honored to serve the family of Rev. Russell G. Downs.


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  • Our heartfelt condolences to Russell’s family. I (and the whole Jackson family) knew him in the 1950s, when we all attended the Nazarene church in Mt. Gilead. The Downs family were great friends. My brother is named Marvin after Russell’s brother Marvin. Memories of Russell are warm and we send sympathy to all of you.

  • Heaven has a new angel! Our thoughts and prayers are with you…just as Pastor was with us when Mom and Dad passed away. We will always remember his visits, prayers and dedication to his calling… especially making a middle of the night hospital call to be with our family and comfort us when Mom moved on to her heavenly home. He was such a kind, caring man. Blessings to you all.
    The children of Rev William and Eileen Bennett
    Bill, Mary, Randy and Carol

  • My heartfelt sympathy to Russell’s family. The Rathburn’s attended church with the Downs family at Mount Gilead Nazarene Church. We were friends with the whole family and have great memories Joan Rathburn Jagger