ROBERT LEE DOWNUMOctober 25, 1936 ~ May 30, 2017 (age 80)
Robert Lee Downum, 80, of Boise died May 30, 2017 at a local hospital with family at his side. Born in Nampa, Idaho, he was the first child of Raymond and Edna (Porter) Downum. He was educated in public schools in Kuna and Bonners Ferry, Idaho and graduated from Kuna High School in 1955. He was a lifelong learner and his many interests included photography, woodworking, and genealogy. In 1956, he married his high school sweetheart Doris Hawk. They have four children and recently celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary. His life was filled with the love of family and friends and his kindness and generous spirit touched them all.
Lee worked at Idaho Camera in Boise for 45 years and served as a store manager for more than three decades. He was a fixture in the downtown business community. He made many lifelong connections at the store with many people coming to know him as a trusted expert and friend.
He was a longtime member of the First United Methodist Church and sang in the choir for decades. His musical life also included singing with The Boise Chordsmen, a barbershop chorus and The Bogus Bills barbershop quartet. He has been associated with Boise Music Week for 26 years starting as a singer and actor in several musicals and quickly becoming the backbone of the production team. Lee was on the Boise Music Week Board of Directors, serving as board president in 2013 and working as producer for the last 15 shows until he stepped down earlier this year. He was recently honored as a Lifetime Member of the Boise Music Week Board of Directors.
Lee had many other creative outlets and was the quintessential handyman. His personal hobbies extended outward to family, friends and neighbors. He generously shared his time and talents and he always made himself available to help with a problem or a project.
Lee’s photography hobby evolved with the revolutionary changes of camera and film. His younger years included a home darkroom and photo-developing chemicals. He adapted with the technological changes and carried on his passion for photography into the digital age. As the technology became available, he digitized thousands of photographs for family archiving and created multi-media presentations for special occasions for his large extended family.
His interest in genealogy began to blossom well ahead of the birth of the internet. Once he took this hobby online, he eagerly immersed himself in the abundance of data available. His research allowed him to investigate the origins of the Downum and Porter families in the United States and to curate archival photos of earlier generations. Through this work, he created a legacy to pass on to his future generations and he made lasting connections with distant relatives across the country.
Working with his hands was a hallmark of Lee’s life. He identified as a farm boy from Kuna and a cobbler who knew how to fix things. Lee and Doris spent a lifetime renovating and remodeling bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens. Doris dreamed up the projects and Lee created the masterpiece. He honed his precision skills and came to be a remarkable woodworker, most recently donating his time to the Cathedral of the Rockies to complete the rebuilding and restoration of a harpsichord, the piano-like instrument of the Baroque period and building intricate show props for Boise Music Week productions. He also created cherished gifts for his family including wooden toys and furniture.
He leaves behind his beloved wife Doris, son Doug and his wife Patty of Meridian, son Craig and his wife Dawn of Meridian, daughter Brenda of Corvallis, Oregon, and daughter Lisa (Smith) and her husband Joey of Hayden, Idaho. He will be dearly missed by his wife and children, his three siblings and their spouses, 9 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren and 10 step grandchildren and great- grandchildren who loved his homemade ice cream and the silly quacking sounds he made to get big smiles for the family photos.
Visitation will be held at Cloverdale Funeral Home on Monday, June 5, 5-7 pm. A funeral service will be held at the First United Methodist Church Cathedral of the Rockies on Tuesday, June 6 at 1 pm with the Rev. Duane Anders presiding. Memorial gifts in Lee’s honor may be made to the First United Methodist Church Cathedral of the Rockies Legacy Fund, Boise Music Week, or The Boise Chordsmen.