Chief Woodrow “Woody” Downing Obituary
Gotta Drive ‘Em!
Good Ole Boys San Diego Car Club Number One/WoodyBay and WoodyBay Calendar Founder
Woodrow “Woody” Downing, retired Fire Chief for both Norco and Alpine, California passed away on Friday, June 4, 2020, from a heart attack. Woody Downing was born January 29, 1942, in Hawaii and died in La Mesa California. Woody was 79 years old.
Woody lived his early life in Hawaii before his family moved to the Bay Area in the very early 1950s. His Downing Family is famous for surfboards still made in Hawaii. Woody was a lifelong fireman, beginning his early fire career in the Fairview Fire Department in the Hayward area of Alameda County later teaching fire science for some years on the side in a Bay Area community college. After progressing through the fire ranks in Alameda County, he moved south to Norco becoming the youngest fire chief ever in California and later to Alpine, California. Woody was very well known and respected in the fire and police communities of San Diego.
Woody was the essence of a real Car Guy who turned his own wrenches, was an early 60s super stock drag racer around the many NORCAL dragstrips including Fremont, Vacaville, Santa Rosa, and Lodi California, campaigning his personal new 62 Impala Bubble Top, 409, 4 speed from a Dealership in Hayward. He entered a very customized brand new 64 Corvette, painted Fathom Green over Black with a Mako Shark front end as a young fireman in the original Oakland Roadster Show in the early 1965 which won trophies. He has had a number of modified and customized cars and hot rods including his red ’29 Ford Roadster, a very well-known POPULAR HOTRODDING Magazine in the late 1990’s, a fire engine red ’57 Chevy Bel Air Hardtop with a Blown BB Chevy, a Deuce highboy with BB Chevy, a super cool ’57 Ford Ranch Wagon Woodie, his ’49 Ford Woodie and ’41 Ford Convertible with skirts that he drove all over California and Arizona to many, many events. He has been a huge collector of fire department-related things which lined the walls of his home office.
Woody is a former member of the Over The Hill Gang San Diego from 1991 till 2005, the Chiefs, and his own car club, The God Ole Boys San Diego Car Club (GOB). He was an honorary member of the Street Masters Car Club of San Diego cooking pancakes every year during their annual Christmas Car show for attendees. He was the sole organizer of many car events around El Cajon including being a big part of the Deuce Day events in Escondido and one of the early movers & shakers with the Escondido Cruise Nights. He had one of the most vibrant email lists, called WoodyBay with over 1100 members which he distributed car event information for the great San Diego and SOCAL areas plus providing a means to share list members Cars and Parts around SOCAL.
In the last 20 years of his life, Woody was basically a professional Car Guy attending just about every car event in the San Diego area. Woody made annual treks to NORCAL for car and retired fireman events and attended car events out of state in Arizona and Nevada, including Hot August Nights in Reno.
Regarding his personal deuce highboy, a lot of folks miss a little fact about his wheels and tires. Woody runs full old school hubcaps on the roadster, but if you look close he has full smooth caps on the driver’s side of the car and old school spinners on the passenger side of the car. This is our Woody!
A Remembrance Drive By Celebration of Life event is planned for Wednesday, June 23, 2021 during El Cajon Cruise Night. Everyone is welcome. Full details are available at https://www.goodoleboyssandiego.com/chief-woodrow-woody-downing-downing-remembrance/
“His impact was way beyond car clubs. The vehicles we coordinated for charitable and veterans events impacted hundreds of thousands if not over millions – without exaggeration.” Doug Jones
“Your gift of friendship and special memories will be cherished always. Thank you, buddy.” Jack Roccoforte
- “He was not only a Hero, a great man, a car show man, but he was the best friend I could have ever had. My favorite of those pictures I sent you is the one with his Good Guys trophy. It was one of the first car shows I went to with him that wasn’t a weekday every week one. He was so happy that day. Woody always had an awesome smile and heart inside it.” Cresta Venancio
- “Woody I know you are listening to us You will be missed from all off us!” Richard Judy Bonjorno The Texan
- “Thanks for getting back to me. What a great guy he was and I still can’t believe he passed.” The Lugnut Randall Connell
- “What a nice tribute. I met Woody a number of years ago but did not know him well, but both being retired from police and fire service got along well. He was so generous, and sent me many e-mails over the years. I will miss Woody!” Chuck Braddy
- “Mike I am sorry to hear about Woody’s passing I have enjoyed his car related emails and his consecutive opinion emails. I would like to continue getting the emails if you or someone else is going to take over.” Bob Vowles
- “I knew Woody and was part of his Thurs. nite gathering at Carl’s Jr in Rancho San Diego until Covid shut us down. So sorry to hear of his passing.. he was a great guy and will surely be missed.” David Miller
- “We will all miss Woody!” Bob Brown
- “My name is S. “Cody.” I have known Woody since our days in the Fire Department. I am also a “Member” of the GOBSD CC group. Please keep me advised to the latest news and announcements and thank you for all you’ve done as the friend and webmaster for Woodybay. We are all already missing Woody and the many happy, fun times we had together with real friends and playing with hot rod cars.” S Cody
- “Long time subscriber to Woody’s car event list. He was a great person and will be missed by the car community.” Rick Bobick
- “I have been a recipient of Woody’s postings and mourn his passing. Please keep me in the loop and thank you.” Jim Howe
- “Deep Condolences to all. Shocked…” Bob Wright Heartbeat Classics
- “Woody was a dear friend to many and will be missed by all in the car community. May he rest in peace.” Bob Doran
- “I’m President of the San Diego Prowlers. Woody was great in keeping us notified of upcoming events. I also liked the emails of items for sale.” Marty Simonides
Thanks to Doug Clements, Rich Downing and Pete Cowper for their editing skills on my copy.