His Life

        Beloved father, friend and recent grandfather, Blake Launcelot Downing, passed away on July 4, 2016 at his home in Palo Alto.

        Born on March 12, 1947 in Mill Valley, California to William Downing and Lorraine Chase Downing, Blake was the eldest of the three children raised in the Bay Area. After a three-year Army stint in Germany, Blake avidly pursued his studies. Bridging his passion for people at a deeply intimate level, and human interactions on a large scale, Blake graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University with an AB ('72) in economics and psychology, a Master’s in Economics ('75), and an MBA ('77) with an emphasis in finance, marketing, and international business. Despite a stellar academic record, Blake was modest about his accomplishments. As he described his years at Stanford, “I just loved to learn.”

        Blake had a keen interest in science and technology. He honed his analytical and product marketing skills at Fairchild Semiconductor, Creative Strategies, Synertek and PCI International before moving to investment banking with Robertson Stephens & Co. After several years at the investment banking firm, Blake started his own investment banking partnership in 1986. 

        Blake met his future wife May, in Singapore and they were married in Palo Alto in 1974. 1981 saw the birth of Blake's son, Lance, followed by the birth of his daughter, Elizabeth in 1988. Fatherhood was a treasured role for Blake. He devoted as much time as possible to his children despite career demands, and instilled in them the values of intellectual engagement, self-reliance, and personal discipline. Love and commitment to his son and daughter was a driving force for Blake even during the difficult times of his life when his health suffered. Blake also deeply valued his long friendships. He was loyal, a sincere and kind empathizer, approachable with a self-deprecating sense of humor, and could relate to people from all walks of life.

        Blake retired early after enjoying professional success. Having traveled throughout the world, in his later years he was truly most at home in Palo Alto. He enjoyed biking and walking to his favorite coffee shops and restaurants in town with his friends, going to movies at the local theaters, attending lectures at the SLAC and SETI institutes and at Stanford University. He was a former volunteer in the Palo Alto child literacy program, the CCIS hospitality program for international graduate students and a regular visitor to the Computer History Museum. Blake was happiest when surrounded by his family and long-time friends, enjoying good food, jokes and spirited conversation. Blake's greatest joy before his death was being able to meet and hold his long-awaited granddaughter Addison Jane.

        Blake is survived by his loving son and daughter Lance and Elizabeth; his sister Holly Downing, his brother Guy Downing; granddaughter Addison and his partner Dana Perkins.