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Joseph L. Dowdell

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Joseph L. Dowdell, two-term mayor and longtime resident of Yellow Springs, passed away on Oct. 6, 2021, at Miami Valley Hospital, after a brief illness. He was 86.

Joe was preceded in death by his wife of 53 years, Marilyn Kelley Dowdell, his great friend and partner in life. Joe and Marilyn loved laughter, good food, wine and worldwide travel.

Born in Auburn, Ala., and raised in Auburn and Warren, Ohio, Joe was the oldest son of Vanderbilt and Millie P. Dowdell. Joe attended Warren G. Harding High School, where he excelled in academics. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Miami University (Ohio) and a Master of Science degree in systems engineering from MIT. Over a nearly 40-year career in computer science, Joe rose through the ranks of the Air Force Civilian Service to become technical director, 88th Communications Group, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where he managed virtually every aspect of computer technology and supported the Aeronautical Systems Center, Air Force Materiel Command and the U.S. Department of Defense. He retired from Wright-Patterson in 1997.

Joe is survived by his daughters, Jennifer and Jacqueline Dowdell; brothers, James (Juanita), Millikin (Cheryl) and Samuel Dowdell; and sister, Vancenia Rutherford. He is deeply missed by his family, friends and community.

A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Yellow Springs Senior Center, 227 Xenia Ave., Yellow Springs, OH 45387 (


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