October 15, 1865 - June 29, 1952
|Rev. James Robert Downs was born October 15, 1865, in Catahoula Parish, the son of John E. Downs and Eliza Shepherd Downs.
He married Sarah Jane Boyett in 1883, and to their union were born nine children: Jarusha, Mattie Mae, Buddy, Ella, Benjamin, Lottie, Horace, Emma and Whitfield. His beloved wife died January 26, 1926. The life of one fine son was sacrificed in the defense of his country during the First World War. The grief which Bro. Downs sustained by this loss was only partially assuaged throughout the years by the comforting communion and prayers of his Brethren in Christ. This and other sorrows were relieved in part by his privilege of seeing four generations of his descendants while he yet remained in this world. In addition to his children, he was survived by 19 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
Despite the lack of extensive formal education, Bro. Downs through his own efforts developed his natural talents into an effective instrument of service for the Lord. He studied music and used his exceptional voice as a valuable adjunct to his ministry. He spent much time in reading the Holy Word. and in studying books of devotion and inspiration. But his greatest power came from his passion for lost souls. He spent much time in prayer and fasting and literally devoted his life to the weak and downtrodden of the earth.
He took over the management of the Home of the Good Samaritan at Monroe, Louisiana, in October, 1917, when it was about to be closed for lack of funds. This institution was continued in its work of mercy and redemption, almost entirely through the sacrificial labors of Bro. Downs, until after the Uniting Conference, when its work was merged with that of Memorial Mercy Home at New Orleans.
Bro. Downs was admitted to the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church in 1907 and was ordained Elder in 1910. His active service, including work as pastor, evangelist, and superintendent of the Home of the Good Samaritan, encompassed 32 years.
Bro. Downs found his greatest spiritual blessing in singing the grand old hymns of our faith, but I believe he was higher in the mountains of joy when he sang:
“Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen;
Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save.
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying;
Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.
Our brother departed this life on Sunday, June 29, 1952, at the old building on the Winnsboro Road, Monroe, Louisiana, where for so many years he had conducted the Home of the Good Samaritan. This building had been made available to him when the work was discontinued, and despite the pleas of his children that he live with them or permit them to care for him in his own little cottage in West Monroe, he insisted that he wanted to live and die in the Home of the Good Samaritan.
Funeral services were conducted briefly at Hixson Funeral Chapel, Monroe, and in full measure at Luna Church, 14 miles southwest of West Monroe, the scene of an early pastorate of Bro. Downs. In these services the writer was assisted by Rev. W. H. Giles, Superintendent of the Monroe District, and by Rev. I. A. Patton, a lifelong friend of the deceased. Interment was at Head Cemetery under the direction of the Masonic Order.
Our brother’s mortal remains were laid to rest in pleasant scenes of his early life. We shall abide the great awakening, knowing that we shall meet him again.
|Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Church, Pages 169-170, 1952 by E. M. Mouser.|