Bill Lewis Downer; Music Publisher and Executive
Bill Lewis Downer, 86, a music publisher and executive with Decca Records and MCA Music. Downer became head of Decca’s northern music division in the 1940s and retained that position after the firm’s merger with Universal Pictures into MCA Music. Among the songs he published and promoted were Victor Young and Edward Heyman’s “When I Fall in Love,” Jay Livingston and Ray Evans’ “Tammy” and compositions by Henry Mancini and by Rod McKuen. Downer befriended several jazz artists, working with Billie Holiday, Carmen McRae, Al Hibbler and Jackie Wilson, as well as mainstream singers Rosemary Clooney, Sammy Davis Jr., Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Jo Stafford and Doris Day. Downer joked that he might have had a career as a bandleader--except that he sold his entire band to trumpeter Charlie Spivak. A lifelong gardener, Downer wrote several articles published by the Brooklyn Horticultural Society on the care and propagation of indoor plants. He also contributed articles to The Times. In recent years, he operated plant care businesses, including Interior Plantscapes, in Los Angeles. On Feb. 26 in Los Angeles of congestive heart failure.