Biography of William S. Downing
San Francisco, CA Biographies





WILLIAM SHERMAN DOWNING
In the general practice of law and as a corporation counsel, William Sherman Downing holds a place among the leading attorneys of San Francisco. He is a native of this city, his birth having occurred September 10, 1877, and he is a son of the late Thomas and Catherine (Madden) Downing. Mr. Downing's parents were married in New York, and in 1859 they came to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama. Thomas Downing was a contractor and builder by occupation, and constructed many of the homes and business blocks in early San Francisco. He was killed accidentally in the year 1903, and was survived by his widow until her death in the following year, 1904.

William S. Downing attended the grammar schools and the Boys' high school of San Francisco, having graduated from the latter with the class of 1895. He then entered the University of California, from which institution he received the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy in 1899. The practice of law had for many years appealed to his ambition, consequently he matriculated at the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco and received his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1902. He was admitted to the California state bar in the same year, and until 1906 he was associated with the prominent law firm of Morrison & Cope in this city. In the last mentioned year, he started practice alone, and has so continued since that date with conspicuous success. In 1909, he was named as California counsel for the American Brake Shoe & Foundry Company of Chicago, Illinois, and he is likewise now affiliated with the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is counsel for the General Motors Corporation in the bay region. These responsible connections in legal capacity are indicative of Mr. Downing's demonstrated ability in the practice of law, and are supplemented by a private clientele of large proportions. From 1900 until 1921, he was a director and a trustee of the California Savings & Loan Society, and during the World war period he was a member of the lawyers' draft board in San Francisco.

On June 28, 1923, Mr. Downing was united in marriage to Mrs Mary E. Dunn, a native daughter of San Francisco. They make their residence at 1801 Gough street in this city.

During his collegiate days, Mr. Downing was initiated into the Phi Delta Phi fraternity, and was president of Pomeroy Chapter in 1902. His club connections at present are with the Olympic, the Family, the Sierra, and the Lakeside Golf & Country Clubs. He is a devout communicant of the Roman Catholic Church, and has given his political support to the republican party. In his law practice, Mr. Downing has always observed the most ethical relations with his opponents, and has performed notable service for the many clients who have sought his counsel. His capabilities have also been expressed in his citizenship and his democratic relations with his fellows.

From:
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931


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