Elise (Barrett) Duvall Ashler died peacefully Thursday, August 15 at age 98.
She was born in an unnamed hamlet (as she referred to it) on the Coosa River in Alabama
on January 31, 1915. After a TVA dam project put their home under water, her father packed
up the family of eight and moved to Kathleen, Fla., where he had heard that there were fruit-
bearing orange trees in every yard. Elise grew up on a small farm which provided butter, eggs,
and oranges, but little else. She had one burning desire throughout her life and that was
education. In order to go to college, which no one in her family had ever done, she enrolled in
high school in Lakeland, which is 20 miles away from Kathleen, and graduated at the top of her
Elise entered Florida State College for Women and again excelled both academically and
in sports. Although a slight 5'4", she lettered in basketball, archery and equestrian
competition. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1936 and moved to Williston, Florida
where she taught at Williston High School. There she met her future husband, Edward Duvall,
the principal at the high school who had previously taught at Leon High School in Tallahassee
and they married in 1939. Edward died in 1953.
Not satisfied with a Bachelor's degree, she enrolled in graduate school to study
psychology; first at the University of Florida where she earned a Master's degree in 1948, and
later, at Florida State University where she was awarded a Ph.D. in psychology in 1954, though
she never engaged in a clinical practice. Following her husband's death, Elise became a
success in real estate. She was a trail-blazing innovator and leader in the real-estate industry
locally, designing and building many of the outstanding homes and apartments in Tallahassee.
A lifelong lover of the arts, Elise was actively engaged with FSU and its cultural
activities. She was one of the founders of The LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts in the early
'60s and she always encouraged local artists. Elise was chairman of the Historic Renovation
Commission when it raised money to move the Union Bank Building (now housing the Black
Archives) from the corner of Park Avenue and Adams Street to its present location at the
southwest corner of Calhoun Street and Apalachee Parkway. She was active in the creation of
the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Foundation and remained active in several local civic
organizations. Elise met every challenge with grace and determination.
In 1969 she met Retired Admiral Philip F. Ashler on a blind date arranged by former
Governor Reuben Askew. After a whirlwind romance, they were married. They enjoyed an
active life including extensive international travel and frequent stays at her home in Tangier,
Morocco. They were married 40 years at his passing in 2009.
She is survived by her five sons: Jeff Duvall and his wife Stuart Riordan, Richard and
Marianne Duvall, Phil and Betty Ashler, Jr., all of Tallahassee, Robert Ashler of Destin, Florida,
and Harrison Ashler of Pensacola, Florida, eight grandchildren and fifteen great-grandchildren.
Also surviving her is her sister Agnes McCalister of Ocala.
Services will be held at Westminster Oaks, Maguire Center on Saturday, August 24, 2013
at 11:00 a.m. Arrangements are being handled by Culley's Meadowwood Funeral Home, Riggins Road Chapel.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to LeMoyne Center for the
Visual Arts or St. John's Episcopal Church.