| Overall UK Wins: 1 | Overall UK Losses: 0 | Win % 100 |
Date of Birth: October 22, 1904
Date of Death: July 9, 1975
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Alma Mater: Armour Tech
For a generalized listing of officials, please consult this page.
|12/21/1949||Kentucky vs. DePaul||W||49 - 47||22||17||19||23||2||1||-||Bill Downes and Jim Beiersdorfer|
Obituary - Chicago Tribune (July 10, 1975)
William Downes dies; Aviation Chief, Referee
WILLIAM DOWNES JR., 70, city commissioner of aviation, was found dead of an apparent heart attack Wednesday in his apartment at 1430 N. Lake Shore Drive.
Mr. Downes, a city employee since 1927, was named city director of airports in 1956. He became commissioner of aviation in 1959 when the Bureau of Aviation, which he had headed, was taken from the Department of Public Works and made the Department of Aviation.
To sports fans across the nation he was better known as a top professional football referee for 25 years. It was said he officiated at more championship and all-star National Football League games than any other man. He quit active officiating in 1970, and became a supervising referee.
Mayor Daley issued a statement praising Mr. Downes for his contributions to aviation and sports and said, "Our city has lot a devoted public official and I have lost a very dear friend."
As aviation commissioner, Mr. Downes was responsible for the design, operation, and maintenance of Chicago's three municipal airports - O'Hare International Airport, Midway Airport, and Meigs Field.
While he was commissioner, most of the extensive development of O'Hare, the world's busiest airport, took place.
Mr. Downes was a batboy for the Chicago White Sox for several years, including 1919 - the year of the infamous Black Sox scandal in which some players sold out the team in the World Series.
A native Chicagoan, he starred in basketball at Tilden Technical High School. He was graduated from the old Armour Institute of Technology, predecessor of Illinois Institute of Technology. At Armour he starred in basketball, was captain of the baseball team, and ran the 100-yard dash in 9.9 seconds.
After coming to work for the city, Mr. Downes worked his way up thru civil service positions to assistant city engineer. He was assistant administrative engineer in the Department of Public Works for four years before becoming head of the old Bureau of Aviation.
He was city representative in the operation of Chicago Civil Defense Control Center during World War II and played a key role in reactivating the civil defense program in 1951.
Mr. Downes formerly was a trustee of Illinois Institute of Technology. He was a past president of the Airport Operators International Council and past executive committee chairman of the Aero-Space Division of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Survivors include the widow, Mary Helen; five sons, William E., III, John Paul, James, Michael, and Thomas; three daughters, Mrs. Laura Kearney, Mrs. Mary Dehnert, and Betty; and nine grandchildren.
Services were being arranged at the chapel at 25 E. Erie St.