Edward K. Downing was born in Valley Mills, near Waco, in 1918. He began his teaching career in Brady, Texas in 1938, but it was interrupted four years later when he was drafted into World War II. He served in the Pacific Theater, rising to the rank of Army staff sergeant. He received numerous awards – the American Theater Campaign Medal, the Bronze Star, The Good Conduct Medal, and the Victory Ribbon Bars.
After his service ended, he returned to the Brady school district as a principal. That was 1947. One year later he accepted a position in Ector County ISD as elementary head teacher and assistant to Coach Virgil Hendley at Blackshear Junior-Senior High School.
He served in a number of different positions in our school district: principal of Douglas Elementary School, principal of Carver Elementary School, principal of Blackshear Junior-Senior High School, and director of special services which included student accounting, transportation, nursing service, textbooks, and reporting to the state agency. As the director of special services, he became the first African-American administrator in ECISD’s history (that was 1968-1969.)
His career with ECISD spanned 37 years – 37 years with perfect attendance.
He retired after 42 total years in public education, but he continued to serve this community in many ways. He played an instrumental role in making Woodson Park, the Boys Club, and Odessa Beautiful a reality. He helped organize Iota Rho Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity in the Midland-Odessa area. He was a board member of Texas State Teachers Association, and sponsor of adult basic education. He was the first African American in Ector County history to be selected to serve as a juror.