2008: Downing Nightingale
Downing Nightingale, Jr. was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1972, becoming the second Downing Nightingale to serve as a St. Johns Trustee. His father Downing Nightingale, Sr. was one of the original Board members in 1953. Downing, the first alumnus to sit on the Board, was also asked to fill the position of Board Secretary that year when the then Secretary declined re-nomination.
He has held the offices of Vice President (1974-76) and President (1977-78) as well as serving on several committees during his time on the Board. In 1975-78 he was the Chairman of the Long Range Planning Committee and commented at that time that since there was no more property available, St. Johns would probably have to double deck the place – 30 years later St. Johns is doing just that. In addition he chaired the Trustee Committee (1996-97) and has been a member of the Nominating Committee, the Internal Affairs Committee, Endowment Committee and, for over 30 years, the Finance Committee (serving several years alongside his old schoolmaster Dr. Heinrich). One of his proudest achievements was to serve on the Headmaster Search Committee that recognized the talent of a quiet assistant headmaster out of Bowdoin College – Stephen F. Russey. Headmaster Russey went on to lead the school for 29 years, longer than all of the other Headmasters combined.
After earning a BA in business and economics from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Downing worked as a stockbroker and later with a local real estate mortgage company, becoming a vice president of the firm. Then, in 1983, Downing, with a lifelong love of the water and boating, started his own company, North Florida Marine Services, Inc., a marine survey and consulting firm.
In 1987, Downing became one of the 50 Charter Members of the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors. He wrote the original Charter and By-Laws and was the Society’s first Secretary. The Society, better known as SAMS, is the largest association of professional marine surveyors with over 1,000 members worldwide. He holds the designation of Accredited Marine Surveyor and the honorary designations of Senior Marine Surveyor and Life Member. Downing served two terms as President (1992 and 1993) and still serves on its Board as an advisor.
Downing is currently the CEO of Lamb’s Yacht Center, north Florida’s largest full service yachting center, which he and his sons purchased in 2002. Lamb’s had its origin in 1936 with the Lamb family and a Nightingale cousin.
He is a past Commodore of the Florida Yacht Club and past Captain of Ye Mystic Revellers, as well as a past Commodore of the Jacksonville Commodores’ League and a member of Meninak, serving on club’s charity projects and scholarship committees.
Downing and his wife Gay have been married for 41 years. The couple has two married sons and three grandchildren.