Duane Charles Downie, age 74, of Winona, MN, died of a heart attack on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, in Windhoek, Namibia, Africa. He was born on November 3, 1943 in Lancaster, WI, the son of Margaret (Peck) and Philip Downie. He received his elementary teaching degree with a Biology Major from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, where he was the basketball team’s Most Valuable Player in 1964, an honor bestowed upon him by his teammates and coaches. Duane was an especially outstanding defensive basketball player and when he took the court, all of his teammates stepped up their game. Duane received his Master’s Degree in Education and an Educational Administration Specialist Degree from Winona State University, Winona, MN. Duane was a science consultant for eleven elementary schools and coached high school tennis and basketball in Wauwatosa, WI, and then taught sixth grade for three years at the International School of Brussels, Belgium. He was the principal at Rushford Elementary School in Rushford, MN, and taught special needs students at Winona Senior High School, Winona, MN, spending over thirty years in the field of education.
Duane worked tirelessly to encourage his students, highlighting their worth and talents, even when they couldn’t see them. He taught his students, players, and children to believe in themselves and work hard toward their goals, and he always found a way to make learning fun. Duane was a perpetual teacher, interested in learning new information, and eagerly sharing it with others, recounting the ways he had learned with sheer delight.
Duane married Diane Scharmer, the love of his life, on July 7, 1973 in Winona, MN. Diane and Duane traveled the world together, to all seven continents and over 100 countries, enjoying every moment. Traveling always brought smiles, new cultural experiences, and a true love for humanity.
Duane was always very active and enjoyed doing many, many activities—often simultaneously. He relished the outdoors and fishing was a true passion. It was not just the joy of the catch, but the delicious taste of the filets that kept him coming back to the dock or the boat or sometimes the frozen lake. Duane loved to plant and care for his vegetables, trees, and flowers (especially hybrid tea roses!). He delighted in cultivating his garden, watering and protecting the plants, and best of all, feeding the entire neighborhood with the fresh produce. Duane’s beloved Wisconsin farm blessed him with walks in the woods, berry and mushroom picking, and numerous projects. Deer and turkey hunting seasons were annual highlights, but mostly because of the hours he spent up in the tree stands admiring God’s handiwork in nature.
Although Duane liked to "kid around" with his friends, he was all business when it came to sports. He was very competitive and his tennis, basketball and golf games were impressive. Duane was truly a sports enthusiast, watching his children participate in basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey, golf, swimming, and tennis. He also enjoyed barbequing, grilling, and baking, especially quadruple batches of spritz Christmas cookies. He would share whatever he had with whomever he met, and seemed to make friends with everyone in the many places he traveled. A bowl of ice cream and popcorn marked the perfect conclusion of his day.
Duane knew what mattered the most and he fully-appreciated each day as a blessing with his family and friends. He always had endless energy, he never gave up, and he nurtured a genuine zest for living. Duane’s excitement was infectious and his smiles radiated with the purest of child-like joy. Most of all, more than all of his many hobbies combined, he loved spending time with his wife and children— he considered them life’s greatest gifts.
He is survived by his wife Diane, Winona, MN; daughter Dee Dee, Atlanta, GA; son David (Katy) and grandson Lincoln, Schaumburg, IL. He is also survived by his brothers-in-laws, David Scharmer, Fountain City, WI; Daniel (Janet) Scharmer, Houston, MN; Charles Dinkins, Beaumont, TX; sisters-in-laws Bonnie Scharmer, Buffalo City, WI; Vicki Scharmer, Winona, MN; nieces Cindy (Chris) Partin, Beaumont, TX; Sara (Brian) Langhorst, Alma, MN; Brandi (David) Holohan, Snohomish, WA; Carolyn Chapel, Houston, MN; and nephews Tim (Jenny) Scharmer, Winona, MN; and Dan (Stephanie) Scharmer, Minnesota City, MN. In addition to his parents, Duane was preceded in death by his brother Paul, Lancaster, WI; sister Alice, and nephew Charles, Beaumont, TX; and mother-in-law and father-in-law Lilah and Ralph Scharmer, Winona, MN.
Visitation will be held from 5-7pm, Friday, August 24, 2018 at Fawcett Junker Funeral Home, 1476 West Broadway, Winona, MN. A Memorial Service will be held at 2pm, Saturday, August 25, 2018, with visitation from 1-2pm, prior to the service, at the Church of the Nazarene, 469 Orrin St, Winona, MN. Services entrusted to Fawcett Junker Funeral Home and Crematory, Winona, MN and Fountain City, WI. Words of sympathy or remembrance may be left at https://www.fawcett-junkerfuneralhome.com/notices/Duane-Downie. The family is planning to set up a memorial fund in Duane’s name.
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