Dr. Dero Downing was 89 when he died yesterday.
His career at Western Kentucky University began over 70 ago in 1939 as a freshman.
His legacy at the school will last much longer.
"I think he would hope his legacy would be his devotion to education and his devotion to the institution," Downing's son Alex said.
He hopes the current students realize how much the school meant to his father.
"I think they hopefully will know that he devoted his entire professional career to making decisions that he hoped were for the best of the institution. Hopefully impacted generations of students during his tenure and future generations of WKU students as well," he said.
One of those decisions he made was to help hire John Oldham as basketball coach at western.
Oldham remembers downing as a long time friend.
"He has been involved in my life since 1942. He loved to fish and so did I so he'd come down to visit me at Cookeville Tennessee and we'd go fishing. He had a great pool table at his home and so about one night a week we would shoot pool," Oldham said.
Current president Gary Ransdell worked with downing back in 1974 and would later seek his advice often when Ransdell became president.
"He was a mentor, an adviser and a confidant of mine. We would often talk over these last several years about things we were doing. How he might view things so he was a great friend and a great adviser always positive always constructive, in large measure Dero Downing defined the WKU
spirit," Ransdell said.
Downing's love for the university spread throughout his entire family.
All five of his children went there.
Five of his 14 grandchildren have attended WKU.