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1934 - 2005
Jim Downey passed away on January 27, 2005.
Born in Michigan in 1934, Jim
was an investment counselor by trade, and his hobbies included the martial
arts (a 2nd degree black belt in Judo), being a pilot, and, of course,
Supering, where he will be remembered, among a host of other (often clergical)
roles, for being chosen to be the Cardinal in the "Te Deum"
parade in the 75th season gala re-opening Tosca. He was divorced,
but remained close to his former wife and their four children. He will
be very much missed.
In lieu of flowers, his family
has asked that donations be made to the Super Committee in his name. Send
checks made out to "Super Committee" to: Paul Newman, 244 Kearny
St., San Francisco, CA 94108.
A memorial service was held
on Monday, January 31, 2005 in Fort Jones, California. Please feel free
to contribute to the "Memories" section, below.
Jim's Super career:
- 1996-1997: Aida
- 1997-1998: Eugene Onegin
- 1998-1999: Don Carlo
- 1999-2000: Louise
- 2001 Verdi Celebration: Aida
- 2001-2002: Arshak II, Tosca, Carmen, Giulio Cesare
- 2003-2004: Don Carlos
- 2004-2005: Tosca
Please feel free to contribute
by emailing the editor.
I first met Jim during rehearsals
for Giulio Cesare in the summer of 2002, worked with him in many
productions that followed. Jim was always there with a quiet smile, a
funny story, and kind word. I last saw Jim at the Lamplighter’s
Yeoman of the Guard performance on January 22. It was a great
shock to hear of his death on January 27. I am among many who will miss
his presence. ~ Paul Szczesiul
In the last Don Carlos,
I was a prison guard in the third act, and Jim's role was as an "evil
monk" who would enter and whisper conspiratorally in my ear, after
which I would depart, allowing for the murder of Rodrigo. Of course, being
Jim, he always whispered an off-color joke in my ear. Fortunately, my
back was to the audience so my chuckles were not visible. ~ Mark Burstein
Jim was a warm presence with
a subtle, sly smile and kindness oozed from his eyes. As the Pope—or
whatever he was—in Tosca, he let me kiss his ring and follow
him around. He seemed amused by almost everything, and I get the feeling
he had a lot more to say than he did. He was a gentleman. We didn't really
know each other, but he paid attention to me as if I were a trusted friend
and he laughed openly at my dumb jokes. With his perfect posture and presidential
demeanor, he made us all proud to be a Super alongside him. May God bless
him on his journey. With a reluctant heart I say Good Bye. ~ John Guglielmelli
Jim befriended me during the
1996 Aida and in the years to follow, he always greeted me with
a genuine smile and a new repertoire of raunchy jokes. Jim was a true
gentleman who loved opera, appreciated beautiful women, and had a boundless
sense of humor. It looks like Tosca will have to be in permanent
hiatus now that Jim is no longer with us. ~ Mike Harvey
It is a profound shock to me
that Jim has died. As another of the "Keystone Monks" during
Don Carlos I had the privilege of spending a lot of time with
him, enjoying his wry wit. Because we shared careers in the stock market,
there was always something to talk over. Happy Trails, Jim, I'll miss
you. ~ Al Cummings
A couple of seasons ago I had missed Comp Night for the Cav/Pag
double bill so I went a few nights later without, shall we say, a seat
assignment. I bumped into Jim in the orchestra section and it turned out
he was in the same situation. He had the scoop on where the best seat
was to see the one and only Super performance of the entire evening.
Like two mischievous schoolboys, we managed to sneak around under the
noses of the hawkish ushers and slip into vacant seats to get
a good view of Tom Carlisle on stage right. The last time I saw Jim was
when he was about to go on at the last performance of Tosca.
He would always stand in the exact same spot in his heavy robes looking
as though he was waiting for someone to wheel him onstage for the "Te
Deum" a la Fellini's Roma. Seeing the photos on this site,
especially the one with Carol Vaness, reminds me what a sweet and funny
man he was.~ Andrew Korniej
I was saddened to hear of Jim's
passing. Although I didn't know him well, I remember one amusing conversation
we had during our last Tosca run. He was holding forth
with some very strong views about the Catholic Church while in the middle
of putting on his bejewelled costume to play the Cardinal. (No one wore
red and gold brocade better than he did!) I loved the irony of that
moment. There was obviously much wit and intelligence behind his
stately presence, and he will be greatly missed. ~ Grove Wiley
I was distressed to hear of Jim's passing. He was a thorough delight
in every way during my stint as Super Captain. I could always rely on
him to come for last-minute rehearsals and lightwalking gigs. He was jovial,
never complained and glad to do it. A real trouper in every sense of the
word, and a lovely man. He was one of the joys of my era. ~ Todd Calvin
Jim was an immeasurable asset
to the Super and lightwalking rosters. As a Super he was a regal and graceful
bishop (the only production he's been in during my tenure), and as a lightwalker
he was eager and contributive. He always had a nice word for people. Right
after I became Super Coordinator, my email relationship began with Jim.
He took a liking to my name right away—he would always call me "Irish."
(Mr. Downey was also of Irish decent.) Sometimes I would get emails that
said nothing but, "Good morning, Irish." It was such an immediate
endearment. I will remember Jim fondly. ~ Carrie Murphy
Thank you all so much for your kind words and thoughts about Dad. It
touches us deeply. Of course, we are all in a little bit of shock still.
The opera held such a special place in his heart for so many years.
~ Colleen Downey-Moran