Dick Downey: football coaching legend passes away
Dick Downey, a Bayview of Milford native and standout head coach at Milford Academy and then an assistant coach at the University of Rhode Island, passed away on Saturday, May 28. He was 78.
A coaching legend, Downey was an assistant coach for Bob Griffin's URI Ram teams that won three Yankee Conference titles in the 1980s. Downey and Griffin were boyhood friends in Milford, who worked together for years in Kingston.
Downey has been honored over the years with the awarding of the Milford Academy Founder’s Appreciation Recognition (1990), The URI Fifth Quarter Club Appreciation Award (1992), Rhode Island Football Coaches Hall of Fame (2003), Providence Gridiron Club Hall of Fame (2004), Rhode Island High School Football Coaches Association (2004), Rhode Island Chapter of the National Football Foundation (2012).
He received an award from the Governor’s Cup Committee for his contributions to the CT/RI High School All-Stars.
A running back during his playing days for the University of Miami and Southern Connecticut, Downey coached running backs and defensive linemen during his time at URI. The two remained close after their time with the Rams, even serving as assistants together at Cranston East on Tom Centore's staff.
"The entire Rhode Island community is saddened by the news of Mr. Downey's passing," Rhode Island Director of Athletic Thorr Bjorn wrote on the Rhode Island Athletics website.
“His impact on the most successful years in our football program's most successful years can not be overstated. He remained a part of the fabric of football in the state for years after his time here, continuing to impact the lives of many young high school players. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Following his time at Rhode Island, Downey coached for nearly two decades with several area high schools, including Narragansett, North Kingstown and Cranston East.
Visitation will be from 3 to 7 p.m., Thursday, June 2, at Avery-Storti Funeral Home, 88 Columbia St., Wakefield, RI. A funeral prayer service will be held Friday, June 3, at 10 a.m. at Avery-Storti Funeral Home with burial to follow in New Fernwood Cemetery, Kingston, RI.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Coach Downey’s honor to: URI Fifth Quarter Club, c/o Athletics, 3 Keaney Drive, Kingston, RI 02881.