May 28, 1938 - June 15, 2023
“Eddie” was born in the steel mill town of Granite City to Chester Ashley and Dorothea Jansen and was the eldest of the three infamous “Ashley boys”: Eddie, Jimmy, and Larry. These boys were smart and wild, fun, good-looking music-loving guys, and they definitely made an impression on the churchgoers, teachers, coaches and young ladies… At the age of 10, one of Eddie’s teachers recognized his voice as something special and brought him to the attention of a renowned choral director at the Christ Church Cathedral in St Louis, MIssouri. Eddie’s wide range as a boy soprano and baritone had all the markings of star power, and his extensive weekly choir rehearsals quickly led to his accomplishment as a regular soloist for the cathedral choir. His solos can still be heard on the vinyl recordings as Amahl in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Noye in Noye’s Fludde, to name a few. In Ed’s later years, his beautiful tenor voice graced many a wedding, Easter and Christmas celebrations.
Ed and his sonorous voice traveled throughout many a choir stall throughout the continents and years. Traveling to the 1958 World Fair to Belgium with the University of Illinois Glee Club was a life game-changer for him, and savoring the tastes, architecture, sounds and people of Europe, Ed joined the Marines. It was a lucky break for all of us that Dad chose to be stationed in Scotland over Hawaii. And it was monumental for Ed and future wife Sheila who saw him on the dance floor in Dunoon kicking up his legs. Her decision to ask Ed for a light and Ed’s decision to buy Sheila a piece of jewelry on their first official date paved the way for daughters Christine (husband Mark) and Jane (husband Scott) and his grandchildren Sebastian, Ruby, Penny, Kieran, Callum, Bella, Thomas, Sophie, Alden and Sadie to come to love, adore, admire and now desperately miss their darling Edward Marshall Ashley.
Ed was a self-taught learner with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, a big reader, intrepid traveler, a lover of classical music, fine food and wine, and good times. His strong tenor voice filled church choir stalls over 75 years, and his faithfulness often led to Ed assuming leadership positions in many a church vestry. Ed’s entrepreneurial and adventurous spirit (and Sheila’s “Why not?” spirit and love and faithfulness) led Ed and his young family to move to Minnesota some 50 years ago. There, Ed and Sheila became fast and close friends with a dozen churchgoers at Church of the Epiphany. Sheila and Ed entertained good friends at home, on their deck with a hot tub or on one of their speed boats/houseboats/pontoon boats over the years. Whether they lived in New Hope, Golden Valley, Plymouth, Minneapolis in Minnesota, Westbrook and Old Saybrook in Connecticut or Saxapahaw in North Carolina, Ed and Sheila were the duo who loved forging meaningful relationships with their neighbors.
Ed was a softball player in his younger years, a fisherman and boater, a storyteller and a poet who wrote Haiku. He loved his daughters and their partners so much, and was inordinately proud of them and their children. Ed was able to make his family feel like they could be and do anything…much like his life path demonstrated. Ed was an optimist, a sophisticated guy who held extensive knowledge about a world of literature, architecture, the bible, wineries (he made wine with a bunch of guys in Minnesota for a few years!) and most of all classical music.
As one friend wrote, “He may have been ready to go. And you may have been ready to let him go. But you are never ready to be without him.”Ed’s peaceful passing in his home in Saxapahaw with his wife holding his hand was a blessing. And still, we cannot imagine this Earth without him leaving daily phone messages. “Sheeeeeeeee-La”, “Twistwine”, “Hanie”, your grandkids, brother Larry and sister-in-law Kathy, nephews and nieces and friends who became your extended family, love you to the moon and back.
You Are There
By Edward Ashley
Across the sun-flecked silver water,
Beyond the pink gate,
You are there.
You are there,
Across the bay of Zihuatanejo
Besides a pool of deepest blue,
You are there.
You are there,
You are there at Puerto Mio
And I am content,
I know you are there.
Ed will rest in peace at Blue Stem Conservancy Cemetery in Cedar Grove, NC. Friends and family are invited to join in celebrating his life on June 29, 2023 at 11 am.
- Due to the rural nature of the setting, the family will record elements of the celebration and post for those who cannot be present.
- Wildflowers are in abundance, so please do not send flowers. Your prayers and love are most important to the family.
- Send correspondences to Sheila Ashley at PO Box 42, Saxapahaw, NC 27340. If you wish to make a donation to help defray burial costs, or make a donation to Blue Stem Conservancy, a one-of-a-kind beautiful green burial ground, you are most welcome. Contact Christine at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any other questions.