Magazine Features

Mother: A Tribute

Virginia Downing

Major Virginia Downing, who is retired after 42 years as a Salvation Army officer, is still very active at the Oil City, Pa., Corps. Some of the people who know her best commented on her as a mother, Salvationist, and person.


“The amazing mother who is Virginia Downing starts her average morning with devotions and prayer.

Mom does not lie. I know this shouldn’t be an amazing thing, but in this day and age, it’s becoming normal for people to tell at least little white lies. Not Mom. She won’t lie even a half truth. In every situation, Mom turns to prayer. She points you to God and what He can and will do for you. Then she’ll continually pray for you. Mom is a great listener and is always open to discuss and give godly counsel. This is evident in the many people who seek her advice. Her soft, genial approach makes her easy to talk to.

“Our mom’s passion for God is amazing. Have her lead a song or read a scripture verse and it’s impossible to not feel, hear, and get a sense of her passion. She has a beautiful voice and when she sings, you can’t help but feel her love for God in every word.

“Mom is consistently busy; from early on, she was found at the corps daily. As well as caring for her own family, Mom has become a mom to others.”

Paul Downing Jr.


“Major Virginia Downing is the perfect example of who a mother should be. She has been a shining example of a godly mother to many in the Oil City Corps and countless others through the years she was a corps officer. She always has a listening ear and offers words of encouragement.

“I have seen her love evident not only when she travels to see shows or sporting events that her grandchildren participate in, but also when she attended my own sons’ high school graduation. She has always included my family in fun times at their family cottage. We will be forever grateful for the wonderful memories she allowed us to have there. She continues to be supportive of the youth of the Oil City Corps through prayer and in many other ways.

“She has encouraged my family to keep trusting God’s plan when it seemed like everything was falling apart. I would hope that I am half the mother she has been to her children and those that she has mentored, like me. This quote by Rudyard Kipling explains why Major Jinnie (as we like to call her) is the mother she is: ‘God could not be everywhere so he created mothers!’”

Heather Antill


“My Mom, Virginia Downing, is the sweetest and most giving person I know. She has such a good, pure heart, always putting her family before herself.

“I can remember the Home League ladies coming to my mother to confide in her, whenever they needed prayer or just someone to talk to. She always listens without judgment and then leads me in the right direction with her faith and love of God.

As a mother, she always took the extra time to be with us for school, our friends, and all the numerous activities at the corps.

“She encouraged us in every venture we chose to take. She is also an amazing grandma and gives to her grandkids unconditionally.

“Now she has become a great–grandma and has blessed our family in ways that no one could ever imagine. She is the ‘rock’ and leads our family with faith and love. She is an amazing woman with a kind and giving heart. I can only hope to become the amazing woman she has shown me to be.”

Marian Raines


“I am so thankful to God for bringing Major Virginia Downing into my life when I was a young teenager. She became a second mother to my sister and me. She was and still is a true example of Christlikeness to us. She walked with me through rough times and good times. She was a great teacher of the Bible, both through reading and explaining it and living it daily.

“It was through her daily walk with the Lord and love she shown to her own children and willingness to include me as one of her children, that I was able to learn of Salvation Army officership, and have my heart and ears in tune with the Lord to hear His calling on my life to become an officer. I love Major Virginia Downing, and will always be grateful to her for loving me and encouraging me throughout my life.”

Major Jean Antill

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