|Birth: ||Sep. 24, 1930|
|Death: ||Feb. 21, 2007|
The good spirit of William (Billy) Hilton Ashley Sr. made the return trip home to our Lord in Heaven on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007. His death was not expected, but he expressed many times how fulfilling and blessed his life has been. Bill leaves his loving wife, Kathryn Joyce Davis Ashley of New Harmony, and many children and grandchildren.
Bill was born Sept. 24, 1930, in Shreveport. La., to Joe Ashley and Beatrice Leone Ashley, who preceded him in death. He cherished achieving Eagle Scout and three palms in 1944, graduating from Clovis High School, Clovis, N.M., in 1947 where he was a champion swimmer, receiving his bachelor's degree in Chemistry from Baylor University, Waco, in 1951, and master's degree from SMU, Dallas, in 1988. He started with Gulf Refining Co. in 1951 and spent his early career as a mud-chemist and geologist in the oilfields of Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.
In June 1951 he married Marlene Kay Forester of Shreveport, La., who remarried and later predeceased him in January 1994. Sons, Daniel Hilton Ashley of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, William (Bill) Hilton Ashley Jr. and wife Mary Francis Ashley of Houston, and Douglas Marlon Ashley of Maple Grove, Minn., survive Marlene and Billy. He remarried Patricia Kaye Petty of Tyler, who predeceased him in February 2002. Daughter, Brenda Kaye Ashley Dobbs, and stepson, Brian Keith Hall, survive Pat and Billy.
In September 2003 he married Kathryn Joyce Martin of Whitehouse. Stepsons, Phillip Wayne Gour (wife Ladawn) of New London and Glenn Ray Tillman (wife Janice) of Jacksonville, and stepdaughter, Phyllis Kay Crymes of Whitehouse, survive Billy. His sister, Bettye Jo Ashley Bridges predeceased him in 2001, while her son, his nephew, Shane Bridges (wife Michelle and sons Stone and Connor) of North Mankoto, Minn., survive him. His beloved grandchildren include William (Trey) Hilton Ashley III and Victoria Kay Ashley of Houston, Daniel Ellis Dobbs of Tyler, Sarah Kay and Dillon Marshal Crymes of Whitehouse, Ashley Wayne Gour of New Harmony, Hannah Kay and Hillary Mikelle Gour of New London, Jerry Ray Tillman of Austin, and Terri Kay Tillman Woods of Rusk.
A book is being written about how Bill fought to raise his own children when Louisiana unjustly made them wards of the state and hid them away in orphanages, hostile foster homes, and a reform school. He was relentless in his quest against the state in approaching the deaf ears of the U.S. Senate for help, and later volunteering to serve a jail term in order to see his children again after having escaped and run from Louisiana borders and foster homes with his own children. After five years of running, struggling to work and feed his family due to the difficulties, and having to succumb to the state, Louisiana gave him an apology for their errors and the injustice to his family. He was then allowed to legally move them across state lines (into Texas) and later granted full custody, i.e. custody of his own children. He was made an honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the state of Alabama for his writings about busing in the '70s. He is the "pillar of strength" to his family in every way and a hero for his causes.
In 1965 he moved his family from Louisiana to Tyler to start over. He became Plant Chemist at La Gloria Oil & Gas and retired after more than 30 years, having become a member of "Who's Who" in 1970. He insisted, sacrificed, and achieved his lifelong goal of putting his children through college; one earned a law degree and two earned master's degrees. He has continued to push the goal of college degrees to his grandchildren. He was a current member of the New Harmony Baptist Church and prior member of Episcopal Churches in Tyler and Lindale. He served as voting coordinator and judge for the Republican Party in the New Harmony area. He served his country in the U.S. National Guard Reserves during the Korean War. His love for sharing scouting and swimming is evident to those he instructed as a swimming coach during the '50s and '60s in Louisiana and Tyler, and as an Assistant Scout Master in Tyler and an aquatics instructor at the YMCA.
His causes and generosity reached both inside and outside his family to those in need. He built homes and cared for his sister, Betty Jo Ashley Bridges, and father Joe in Tyler and New Harmony in their later years. He helped raise his nephew at a time of need in his sister's life. When a family lost their home and possessions to fire at Christmas one year, he provided them with a home, furnishings and full cupboards and icebox. He offered his land and to fund a local man with half the profits if he'd plant and harvest an acre of roses. When the man took all the roses and sold them on his own, Bill told his daughter (and meant it) he just hoped he got a good price because he must have really needed the money. He went on to hire the man again and never spoke of the rose incident. His generosity was shared yearly with organizations like the Salvation Army, YMCA and American Cancer Society, as well as, with his church.
We love you dearly and always as you are now with our Master. We expect He will return you to this Earth soon, for your good deeds are surely needed.
Services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 26, 2007, at the New Harmony Baptist Church with Rev. Robbie Caldwell officiating; burial will follow at the New Harmony Cemetery under the direction of Burks Walker Tippit Funeral Directors.
Family will receive friends at the church Monday prior to the service from 9 to 10 a.m.
Published in the Tyler Morning Telegraph on 2/25/2007.
Kathryn Gour Davis Ashley (1934 - 2012)
New Harmony Cemetery
Created by: Kenneth D. Bogard
Record added: Feb 24, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 18040396