Russell Downer may be a retired commercial airline pilot and avid sailor, but he never imagined that one day he’d navigate the world of online dating. For 35 years Mr. Downer flew DC-10s, 707s and 747s for American Airlines, all while maintaining an active membership with the Coronado Yacht Club. Despite Mr. Downer’s thirst for adventure, it took some coaxing from his son to join dating website eHarmony. “I never would have done it on my own,” he said.
Meanwhile Becky Downer’s daughter went onto eHarmony and created her profile without telling her. “She answered all the questions for me, and then told me I was signed up,” said Mrs. Downer. “I said, ‘you did what?’” Married previously to two pilots and having logged 100 hours of flight time herself, Russell did seem like a perfect match for Becky. One year after eHarmony introduced them, they were married. Together, they have eight children from their previous marriages. “We decided not to have anymore,” Mr. Downer quipped.
Today they live at Vi at La Jolla Village and their lives are a wonderful tapestry of a shared passion for travel and the arts.
Their thirst for exploration has taken them on trips to South America, Australia and Salamanca, while at home they can be found dining at the University Club, taking in a performance at the San Diego Opera or Lamb’s Players Theatre where they have season tickets.
While they were dating, Becky took Russell to his first symphony. Now, he enjoys donning a tuxedo and escorting Mrs. Downer in one of her lovely gowns to an opening night performance. Every year, Mrs. Downer participates in the San Diego Symphony’s Partner with a Player program. “The gift supports one member of the symphony, and we get to spend a beautiful evening sitting on stage while they play,” Mrs. Downer said.
Philanthropy has always been important to the couple. They are proud Chancellor’s Associates, a group of annual donors who help fund UCSD’s greatest needs.
With so much in common, and a palpable love for one another, it does seem like fate brought the Downers together. They may have never imagined that it would be in the form of online dating, but for these two adventurers, it’s fitting that they found a kindred spirit while exploring a new world.