Willie Augustus “Gus” Downing peacefully went to be with Jesus and his Heavenly Father on July 10, 2020. He was born on October 4, 1934, in rural Panola County, Texas to Albert Lee and Evelyn Jewel (Britton) Downing. His parents were very poor “sharecroppers” and moved from community to community in his early years. He graduated from Gary High School in 1952.
Gus was saved and surrendered to ministry in August of 1952. He became ordained and began pastoring in October of that same year. In May of 1953 he graduated from Texas Baptist Institute and was active in Pastoral and Associate ministry through 1978.
Gus married Billie Jane Tate in 1954. They were blessed with two daughters, Karen and Kathy. They were divorced in 1970. He married Warthanell Wilson in 1973. Gus and Wartha spent many years teaching, preaching, and discipling side-by-side with great joy. They were members of First Baptist Church Moore for over 35 years. During that time, Gus served in many capacities, including 6 years on staff.
After a mission trip to Ukraine, Gus felt the call to begin a ministry in order to support pastors in that area. In 1998 he began Ukraine Ministries of Oklahoma and started traveling to the area with Kenny Meek. With God’s guidance, they were led to areas where support and encouragement were needed. The very next year, they took a youth group over to host a Youth Camp. They continued the youth camp for many years thereafter, started three churches, and saw thousands come to Christ. Once Wartha retired, the two of them led several marriage conferences for Ukraine pastors and their wives.
At the age of 79, Gus passed over UMO to Chris Malone. During the time of his leadership, more than one and a half million dollars was raised for the ministry and countless heard the Good News. It was the most fruitful and joyful period of his ministry.
Gus is survived by his loving wife of 47 years, Warthanell Downing; daughters, Karen Peterson and husband, Wallace and Kathy Condon and husband, Jim; grandchildren, Kristen Denizman, Kory Peterson, Sam and Kim Condon; and three great-grandsons Aaden Denizman, Everett Denizman and Archer Condon.
Gus was preceded in death by his parents and sister June Evelyn Hall and two younger brothers, Edward Earl Downing and Albert Leon Downing.
Please join us in celebrating Gus’ life at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, July 15 at First Baptist Moore, 301 Northeast 27th Street. Visitation will be held at 1:00 pm in the same location. The family recommends all attendees wear a mask.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made to Ukraine Ministries of Oklahoma or “Prepare the Way” First Baptist Church of Moore.