A Funeral Mass for Gilbert C. Ashley of Ogdensburg, NY will be held Monday (July 15, 2013) at 11:00am at Notre Dame Church with Rev. F. James Shurtleff officiating. Burial will follow the service at Notre Dame Cemetery with military honors.
Calling hours will be held on Sunday (July 14, 2013) from 1:00pm to 4:00pm at the Fox & Murray Funeral Home. Mr. Gilbert passed away July 11, 2013 at his home surrounded by his loving family.
Gilbert was born on August 12, 1926 in Ogdensburg, the son of William H. and Florence McNeil Ashley. Mr. Ashley worked at many jobs during his long lifetime. He began as a paper boy for the Journal & Advance News in the early 1940's and as an usher in the old Strand Theatre. Incredibly, starting at the age of 16, he worked in the pot rooms at Alcoa in Massena for six months. During World War II he served as a rifleman in Patten's Third Army and in the 84th infantry division. He served in Germany and France in some of the same places his father had served in World War I. He was promoted to staff sergeant and his decorations included the Infantry Badge, European Theater Medal, Army Occupation Medal, Victory in Europe Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal.
After his discharge from the Army, Mr. Ashley worked for several months at the BFD paper mill on the chipper and barker machine. He also worked on construction in Potsdam on the first two buildings on the new campus at Potsdam State Teacher's College Saterlee Hall and Maxcy Hall. In Syracuse, Mr. Ashley worked briefly on the NY State Thruway, Public Housing Projects and the new girl's dorm at Syracuse University. He also managed a grocery store called the Sky Top Grocery.
On Long Island, Mr. Ashley worked part-time for Macy's and Abraham & Struss. For several summers he worked as a scouting instructor at a children's day camp on Long Island. He also worked two summers as dock manager for General Electric at Association Island and one summer as a maintenance man at Belmont Courts in Ogdensburg.
Mr. Ashley was a 1944 graduate of Ogdensburg Free Academy where he starred on the track team and excelled in intramural boxing and wrestling. He then graduated from Potsdam State in 1952 with honors and was President of the International Relations Club and the Honor Society, Kappa Delta Phi. He earned a Master's degree in the Social Sciences from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and went on to study at Delphi, Hofstra, and Post University on Long Island.
Mr. Ashley taught history and coached wrestling, soccer and track at Garden City on Long Island for 38 years. His wrestling team went undefeated for many years as did his soccer team (more than 50 straight wins without a loss). His proudest achievement was that in 24 years of coaching wrestling his team never forfeited a match although there were as many as 16 weight classes at that time. Also, Coach Ashley never cut any member from his team roster and as a result, hundreds of boys worked out with the teams and developed their physiques, their abilities and their self-esteem over the years.
Mr. Ashley was recognized as "Coach of the Year" three times by the Men's Association of Garden City, perhaps the first to receive that distinction. Mr. Ashley also served as a Boy Scout master for three years in Henderson Harbor, NY and headed a very successful Boy Scout Drum and Bugle Corps which was the only one in Northern NY and perhaps in the state or nation at the time.
Upon his retirement in 1991 Mr. Ashley moved back to Ogdensburg where his family has roots going back more than 150 years (six generations). He busied himself with gardening writing poetry, studying history, languages (of which he spoke five), keeping up with current events and doing crossword puzzles.
Mr. Ashley wrote many beautiful poems, some of which received statewide and national recognition. He was a lifetime member of Notre Dame Parish. One of his great grandfathers, Peter Gilbert, was one of five men who bought the land where Notre Dame Church now stands from the Nathan Ford estate and deeded it to Notre Dame.
He is survived by his wife 66 years, Maria Stuber Ashley, two daughters, Sonya Coffey of Evansville, Indiana, Renee Ashley of Huntington Station, Long Island, and four nieces and nephews who were raised by Mr. & Mrs. Ashley; Larry and Barbara Hill of Boydton Beach, Florida, Floyd Hill of Holdenville, Oklahoma, Monica Hill Mobley of Wichita, Kansas and Martha Hill Holderman of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, two grandchildren, six great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild, a sister Lorraine Hutt of Leesburg, Florida and a brother Melvin Ashley of Ogdensburg.
He was predeceased by brothers, Ronald, Norman and Bernard and a sister Dorothy Rheome. Memorial donations may be made to the Heritage Fund at Notre Dame Church. Condolences can also be shared online at www.foxandmurrayfuneralhome.com.