The Blizzard Baby is all grown up.
He’s now Missionary Man.
Timothy Downing, who was born 40 years ago at Middletown Hospital during The Blizzard of 1978 — the worst winter storm in Ohio’s history — lives in Ecuador with his family and works as a missionary for Global Strategy.
The Butler County native certainly didn’t take the direct route from Wayne Twp. to Ecuador, a 2,766-mile journey.
After graduating from Preble Shawnee High School in 1996, he attended Mid-America Christian University, where he met his wife, Angelita. He then served as a youth pastor at the Capital Hill Church of God in Oklahoma City, then as a Christian Education minister at the Newton Falls Church of God in Northeast Ohio.
While at Newton, Downing said he was “inspired” by a fellow Middeltonian Barry Shafer of InWord ministries to begin writing. He left Newton and became pastor of a small church in New Mexico. After a few years of “delightful ministry” in New Mexico, he returned to the United States and became lead pastor of the Hillside Avenue Church of God in Springfield.
At Hillside, Downing said, he turned his passion for writing into a passion for publishing on Amazon. He was invited to teach at the Church of God Seminary in Quito, Ecuador. After many visits to Ecuador in the capacity of a visiting professor, he was told the seminary needed a director.
He’s director of the seminary, and his wife is the Ecuadorian Director of a worldwide children’s support program named Children of Promise. They have five children: Timothy II, 16; Esperanza, 11; Ezequiel, 6; Elias, 5 and Adelena, 9 months.
Ironically, for a guy whose life began during the state’s worst snowfall, he rarely experiences snow in Ecuador.
Downing said his parents, Cordell and Darlene, who are visiting him in Ecuador, often talked about the “horrible and short drive” on the morning of Jan. 26, 1978 that ended only about a 1 1/4 miles from their home as they tried to get to the hospital. That story was retold, he said, especially when the family used Stubbs Road to travel to Middletown.
The impact of the blizzard was lost on most of his generation, Downing said. His classmates did not know that he was the Blizzard Baby, though his teachers and members of Breiel Church of God, where he attended, would frequently talk about the storm.
His mother said that on Jan. 26, 1978, they decided to drive to Middletown Hospital for the birth of their first child. But since they lived on a hill, they didn’t realize the “severity of the storm,” she wrote in an email.
So they waited, hoping the roads would be clear. Instead, the conditions got worse. While driving to the hospital, the Downings said snow was above the hood of their International Scout. The vehicle got stuck at the intersection of Stubbs and Jacksonburg roads.
Cordell got out of the vehicle and walked to a nearby farmhouse. A woman let the Downings in her home.
“She was the first person to save our lives that day,” Darlene wrote.
There were others. Medical staff from Wayne Twp. tried to rescue the Downings and drive them to the hospital, but their vehicle got “totally buried” in a snowdrift, the Downings wrote. Afraid his wife wouldn’t make it to the hospital in time, Cordell Downing called Dr. Charles Kresge to get “a crash course on delivering a baby.” But the doctor insisted on coming out to the farmhouse.
He assembled a fleet of three vehicles: A Jeep and two four-wheel drive pick-up trucks with snow blades.
The vehicles got stuck about 1,000 feet from their destination. So they carried Darlene on a stretcher and placed her in a pick-up truck. Timothy Andrew Downing was born on Jan. 27, 1978 by Cesarean section.
Darlene Downing said there were many heroes that day 40 years ago.
One of those was Charles Weidner, then director of maintenance at Middletown Hospital. He was part of the rescue crew. Earlier in the day, while listening to WPFB radio at work, Weidner heard that a pregnant woman was stuck in Wayne Twp.
A few hours later, Weidner, now 78, helped carry that woman to safety. He said cars were stuck on the Ohio 122 hill in Madison Twp., and when told what was happening, the stranded motorists pushed their vehicles to the side to let the hospital vehicles through.
The crew found Darlene lying in a bedroom. Weidner laughed when he recalled how several people — mostly strangers except for Dr. Kresge — stood in the room.
“It was something,” he said of the experience. “It’s hard to believe that boy is 40 years old.”
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