WESTON, Ohio -- Timothy G. Downey, a retired utility worker for the city of Bowling Green who coached pole vaulting at Otsego High School and Bowling Green State University, died Sunday in Bridge Hospice, Bowling Green. He was 65.
Mr. Downey had battled a brain tumor for the last three years and had undergone surgery in January in Houston in which surgeons removed most of it, his wife, Debra said.
Mr. Downey started coaching middle school students in the early 1980s when his oldest son, Shaun, joined the track and field team.
When his son entered high school, Mr. Downey followed, coaching him, his four other sons, and hundreds of other boys and girls who competed for the Otsego Knights over the next three decades.
He also coached men and women in the pole vault during the 1990s at Bowling Green State University, where his second oldest, Travis Downey, competed.
A pole vaulter in high school, Mr. Downey introduced the sport to his sons at home on the runway and vaulting pit he constructed alongside the family barn in Weston.
Three of them would go on to win state championships.
Shaun Downey, a 1989 graduate, was a two-time state champion and later became one of the better vaulters in the Big Ten at Purdue University; Travis, a 1993 graduate, won a state title as a junior, and Drew Downey, who graduated in 1999, became the family's third state champion as a senior.
Shane Hinton, who won the state championship in 1991 for Otsego, was also coached by Mr. Downey.
Mr. Downey grew up in Lafayette in Allen County and graduated in 1965 from the former Lafayette High School. He was drafted into the Army and served two years in Germany. He returned to attend BGSU, and later went to work for a local phone company.
Mr. Downey worked as an electrical lineman for Bowling Green's municipal power division starting in 1968. He retired in 2003 as supervisor. He joined the Otsego coaching staff in 1989.
"He knew what athletics could do for some kids. That it could keep them in school, keep them motivated, keep them out of trouble, and give them self-confidence," his wife said.
Ron Grimm, Otsego's track and field coach for nearly 30 years, said Mr. Downey was dedicated to coaching. He said he would take his tractor to the track before the start of the season in March and drag the surface to make it smooth for the runners.
He also said he was instrumental in building a one-of-a-kind indoor pole-vault facility at the high school that had an elevated runway to allow vaulters to plant a pole.
Surviving are his wife of 42 years, Debra; sons, Shaun, Travis, Nathan, Drew, and Ethan; brothers: Steven and Lance; sister: Barbara Runyan; seven grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.
A celebration of life will be at a later date in First Christian Church, Bowling Green.
The family suggests tributes to the church or Bridge Home, Health & Hospice.
-- Mark Reiter
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