Joe Selby Downes Sr.


Mr. Joe Selby Downes Sr. passed away peacefully on Nov. 11, 2022,  with his wife, Elizabeth, at his side.
Life for Joe began on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. He was born on June 25, 1935, to Harry Rudolph and Lucile Widgeon Downes in Capeville, and later moved to  Eastville. He enjoyed small-town life surrounded by friends and extended family. He kept these friendships his entire life, never forgetting his Eastern Shore roots and  always said he had a wonderful childhood and a lucky life.
After high school, he attended Randolph-Macon Academy, followed by the Army, Goldey-Beacom business school, and then began working back on the Shore. He later attended VCU, graduating  with a B.A. in business and accounting. This led to successful teaching and coaching positions at Thomas Dale High School. Always looking for a new challenge, and always a fan of boats, he moved to Deltaville, Va., where he bought and operated Porpoise Cove Marina.
He was a member of the Masonic Lodge for over 50 years.
Joe had a full and adventurous life. He met and made friends easily. He was a traveler not a tourist, taking great interest in discovering the character and culture wherever he found himself. Throughout his adult life, he traveled with his friends and family, eventually to all 50 states, most of Canada, many countries in Europe,  the Caribbean, and the Bahamas. His greatest joys usually involved traveling on his many boats with his friends, most of all his Krogen 42 named “Take Five.” Later he traveled across the country, taking his RV as far away as Alaska.
At home on the Ware River, he enjoyed puttering in the yard, working in his shop, hosting oyster roasts and steamed-crab feasts, and just watching the sun change the colors of the marsh. Joe was always ready to share a cold one with friends, and to tell stories  and listen to the stories of others. He enjoyed the company of his furry friends, Bailey, Gracie, and Bob.
Joe had a thoughtful, quiet nature interspersed with moments of great enthusiasm. Joe was a wonderful husband and father, a devoted friend, and an insightful mentor. His influence on all of us will not be forgotten.
Joe is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; his children and their spouses, Joe Jr. and Gina, Liz and Jonni, and Jill; his grandchildren, Virginia and Amanda; and great-grandchildren. Cousins Julie, Jim, and Brett also survive him.
Joe was predeceased by his parents and his big brother, Rudy.
His family wishes to thank the doctors, nurses, and many others at Gloucester Riverside Walter Reed Hospital and Gloucester Internal Medicine, who always did their best to help Joe.
Services will be held Dec. 13, 2022, at 11 a.m., from the graveside at Christ Episcopal Churchyard in Eastville, where Joe worshiped as a child.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to Christ Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 367, Eastville, VA 23347, or SEVA Grreat Golden Retriever Rescue, P.O. Box 8014, Yorktown, VA 23693.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at

Arrangements are by Fox Funeral Home.
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