Cover photo for Milton "Milt" F. Downs's Obituary
Milton "Milt" F. Downs Profile Photo
1944 Milton 2023

Milton "Milt" F. Downs

September 14, 1944 — September 20, 2023

Cle Elum, Washington

Milton “Milt” Freeman Downs of Cle Elum, WA, age 79, passed away on September 20, 2023 in Yakima, WA surrounded by his family.

Milt is survived by his wife of 59 years Jeri, sons John and Michael, daughter in law Kim, grandkids Max and Lily, and his niece, Holly, who called Jeri and Milt her “real Parents”.  He is also survived by his sisters, Becky and Sharon and numerous nieces and nephews. Milt was preceded in death by his parents Chester and Florence, and siblings Dennis, Mary Lou, Raymond and Winifred.

Born on September 14, 1944 in Spokane WA, Milt was raised and spent his early years in South Cle Elum.   Milt belonged to the Boy Scouts for a couple years, enjoyed fishing in the Cle Elum River, hiking up Mount Peoh and hunting.  He was a proud member of South Cle Elum Junior High Panthers basketball team.

During his school years Milt had many jobs:  delivering papers and milk, bucking hay, farm hand, and pumping gas at Union 76.   High school sports included baseball and co-captain of the basketball team.  He and Jeri graduated from Cle High School in 1963 and were married in 1964.  He worked for Boise Cascade hauling logs and building roads.  Later he worked for the Forest Service as a member of the road crew.  He worked for DOT for 37 winters on the pass doing maintenance and plowing snow. Milt was a founding member of Kittitas Fire District 7.

Milt’s pride was in farming/ranching, which was started by working with Jeri’s parents, Ida Mae and Gerald Thomas in the Teanaway valley and later purchasing his own property. Milt started mechanic work in grade school on his bicycle.  Milt went on to overhaul his dad’s Gibson Garden Tractor, and to building one of the first diesel pickups around, putting  a Perkins in a 1975 Ford F250.  His talent helped coin the nick name “Diesel Downs” and that truck still is an inspiration to his son!  Milt was known for helping neighbors with their equipment repair projects.

Fishing and hunting were favorite activities.  Jeri and Milt enjoyed fishing the Teanaway River, Lake Cle Elum, Lake Kachess, and Lake Keechelus, as well as Seiku and West Port for salmon.  Milt was excellent at hunting Boletus mushrooms and  was the Sons of Italy Mushroom King for the July 4th celebration in 1989, 1991, 1993 (5lb mushroom the size of a basketball!), 1994, 1995, 1996, 2001, and 2003.  Milt looked forward to hunting elk and deer with his brother and close friends every fall.

Friends and family were a great joy in Milt’s life.  He was the neighbor you could turn to for help or mechanic advice. In these last years Milt and Jeri have instilled in their grandkids strong work ethic, teaching them on the farm to fix sprinkler pipes, shoot, cut wood, build fences, drive a stick shift, fix roofs, run any tool and general farm mischief.  A favorite saying was “what happens on the farm stays on the farm”.

A celebration of Milt’s Life will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 15, 2023 at the Swauk Teanaway Grange Hall, 1361 Ballard Hill Road, Cle Elum, Washington.

Memorial contributions in Milt’s honor are suggested to The Fred Hutch Cancer Center,  1100 Fairview Ave. N.  Philanthropy, Mail Stop J5-200, Seattle, WA  98109 or online at  or donate to any organization of your choice.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Johnston & Williams of Cle Elum.  Online condolences may be left for the family at

To send flowers to the family in memory of Milton "Milt" F. Downs, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Starts at 1:00 pm (Pacific time)

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