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Warren Ferris Downs ( Missoula 1945 )

posted: Aug 27, 2020

Warren, 94, cellist (cello) and environmentalist, died January 12, 2020, in Madison, Wisconsin. He was born March 23, 1925, in Salem, Oregon, where he attended schools including his Freshman year at Willamette University during the ’42-’43 school year. His father was a physician. Warren was a member of the Methodist Church and entered the Civilian Public Service (CPS) in November 1943 as an alternative to military service.

Warren was initially assigned to the CPS camp at Cascade Locks, Oregon and in 1945 transferred to the Missoula CPS camp and smokejumper base. He jumped four fires during the 1945 season before transferring to the CPS base in Waldport, Oregon, which was developing a “School for Fine Arts.”

He was later transferred to the infamous CPS “punishment camp” in Minersville, California, after he and others in Waldport supported the work strike at Cascade Locks.

After his release from the CPS, Warren obtained his BS from Oberlin College and his Master’s degree from Eastman School of Music. He played in the Denver Symphony (1952), St. Louis Orchestra (1953-1956) and the Cleveland Orchestra (1956-1971).

Due to his growing interest in environmental issues, he moved from Cleveland to Madison, Wisconsin, where he obtained a Master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Wisconsin (UW).

Warren then worked many years as a writer for the UW’s Wisconsin Sea Grant Program, a program of basic and applied research, education, outreach and technology transfer dedicated to the stewardship and sustainable use of the nation's Great Lakes and ocean resources. He continued to play cello for the Madison Symphony Orchestra (1973-1998) and in a variety of other music groups.
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