Cover photo for Robert Arden Downs's Obituary
Robert Arden Downs Profile Photo
1934 Robert 2022

Robert Arden Downs

January 23, 1934 — December 17, 2022


Robert Arden Downs of Statham, Georgia passed away on December 17, 2022, at home. He was born January 23, 1934, in Athens, Georgia, the first of five children of Frank Arden and Anne Garrett Downs, and grew up on a 72-acre farm in Oconee County, Georgia in the Bogart/Statham area.  He attended small public schools of Oconee County and graduated at Bogart High School in 1951.  He graduated from the University of Georgia in 1956 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Engineering. Robert was an engineer for the construction of the Continuing Education building at the University of Georgia.

Robert was preceded in death by his parents and sisters Martha Downs Clements and Mary Ann Downs Edwards.

He is survived by his wife Joy McElroy Downs; children Douglas and wife Mary Downs, Lisa and husband Fred Aares, Michael and wife Belinda Downs, and Rebecca Downs; his brothers Glenn and wife Barbara Downs, and William “WC” and wife Dot Downs; Aunt Claire McDougal; brothers-in-law Ryland Edwards and Mack Clements; grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Robert was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force in 1956.  He attended Basic Pilot Training at Bryan AFB in April 1957.

His foreign service included Italy, Korea, Thailand, and other Southeast Asia assignments where he served as an Air Commando fighter pilot.

He was the On-Scene Commander for the Space Shuttle (STS-3) landing at White Sands, New Mexico in March 1982.

Robert retired in 1986 as Base Commander at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. During his military career he had over 8000 hours of “recorded” flight time. He earned The Defense Meritorious Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with four Silver Oak Leaf Clusters and one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, and various other medals.

Recently, he was a general contractor working with MIA General Contracting based out of Oklahoma at area military bases in northwest Florida until 2021.

He served as president of the Air Commando Association and was inducted into the Air Commando Association Hall of Fame in 2003.

Robert will be remembered as a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather.

Graveside services will be Tuesday, December 27, 2022, at 2:00pm at Barrancas National Cemetery, Pensacola Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida.  All attendees must assemble by 1:30pm at Olive Baptist Church, 103 West Winthrop Avenue, Pensacola, Florida for military escort to gravesite.

Lord and Stephens, West is in charge of arrangements.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert Arden Downs, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Monday, December 19, 2022

1:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

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