Willard L. Downs

10/16/2012 1:48 PM |

August 3, 1922 — October 12, 2012

Willard Leland Downs of Flanders died last Friday after a short illness. He was 90 years old.

He was born in Northville to Mary H. and L. Leland Downs. He attended the Northville elementary school and Riverhead High School. He followed his father as a potato farmer on the family farm on Sound Avenue now operated by his nephew, David Wines. In the 1950s he also succeeded his father as the chef for the Hunter’s Garden Association’s semi-annual eel chowder dinners that were always cooked in large cast iron pots over an open fire.

In the early 1950s he and his first wife, Doris Owen, owned and operated the Beehive Restaurant in downtown Riverhead, as well as restaurants in Water Mill and Florida. After leaving farming, he worked with Milton Sandstrom as an electrician for many years. He also took care of the grounds of the Hallock homestead before it became the Hallockville Museum Farm.

The greatest adventure of his life was a mid-1940s motorcycle trip to Florida with his good friend Phillip Wells. He always remembered spending only $26 for gas and coming home with his sidecar filled with oranges.

Mr. Downs is survived by his wife of 49 years, the former Clara Ritter. He is also survived by three nephews, Richard, David and Roger Wines; their spouses, Nancy Gilbert and Elizabeth and Cherie Wines; as well as eight grand-nephews and -nieces and six great-grand-nephews and -nieces. His sister, Virginia Wines, died 19 years earlier.

Mr. Downs was buried on Tuesday, Oct. 16, in the Sound Avenue Cemetery, where he served for many years as caretaker.

He was known for his wonderful stories and his prodigious memory. He will be greatly missed.

This is a paid notice.

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