Fifty-five years ago, Bill Downey opened Golden Isles Realty Co. in the St. Simons Pier Village. That was in 1966, and until recently, he, was going into the office every day.

Downey, 87, died Sunday at Southeast Georgia Health System, in Brunswick.

In addition to being a successful real estate professional, Downey was involved in the community and served on several boards. He was also active in his church, St. Andrew’s, in Darien.

Pat Cooper, owner and broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hodnett Cooper Real Estate, recalled that Downey was an “awesome broker.”

“(He) was always willing to discuss a problem or situation that needed attention,” she said. “He was very smart and wise when giving advice. He will surely be missed in our real estate community.”

Downey was a Brunswick native who grew up in the south end of the city. It was a great childhood, according to his longtime friend Bill Stewart, who said there were lots of kids who lived in the neighborhood.

“I think I’ve known him longer than anyone,” said Stewart.

It seems the south end of Brunswick had a sizable “cowboy” population at the time.

“We liked to ‘ride the range’ on our bamboo stick horses,” he laughed.

Later, after World War II broke out, the neighborhood boys enjoyed digging trenches and caves in their back yards and killing the enemy.

Even with the war raging, life was pretty simple in those days, and Stewart has fond memories of growing up in that time. In August 1945, when the Japanese surrendered signaling the end of World War II, both Downey and Stewart were away at a boys’ camp in North Carolina, with several of their friends.

After finishing both high school and college in Tennessee, the Golden Isles called Downey back home. Descended from a well-known McIntosh County family, he moved his family to the coast and opened his real estate business.

Stewart and Downey didn’t cross paths in their professional lives, but they had an enduring friendship.

In fact, it was just three weeks ago that Stewart stopped by Downey’s office to set a time to get together for lunch.

“He was always a friend,” said Stewart.

Please see the obituary on page 6A.

More from this section

The Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce was lucky enough to have timed its annual Business and Bites event in 2020 just before the COVID-19 pandemic.