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 Mary Ellen “Nellie” <I>Howland</I> Ashley

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Mary Ellen “Nellie” Howland Ashley

  • Birth 3 Nov 1863 Lakeville, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Death 22 Sep 1968 Lakeville, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Burial Dartmouth, Bristol County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Memorial ID 61618776

LAKEVILLE ~ "I Just live a quiet life ~ never mind questions about liquor and smokes," with a brisk reply Mrs. Mary E. Ashley gave on her 101st birthday when asked the inevitable question about her longevity.

That was almost four years ago, and every year since then her birthday on November 3rd touched off a bigger celebration. Last year Mrs. Ashley, still chipper, clear-skinned and healthy was feted at a clarinet quintet concert where a three-tiered cake topped with white swans and the numerals 104 in red was in evidence.

That birthday party was her last one. With five weeks to go until her 105th birthday, Mrs. Ashley died Sunday at the Island Terrace Nursing Home, where she had lived the last three years. She had been ill for several months, the first time she had required medication in many years.

Although she was born and died in Lakeville, she lived in East Freetown most of her life. She and her late husband Ellery C. Ashley, who died 30 years ago, built a house on Quanapoag Road in 1900 where she lived for 65 years. The property was once owned by Thomas and Rest Ashley, his uncle.

Mr. Ashley, road commissioner in Freetown at one time, sold wood and raised cranberries for a living. Mrs. Ashley, the former Mary Ellen Howland, kept house, sewed and gardened. The couple had no children, but their home was a favorite gathering place for young people in the neighborhood.

After her husband died in 1938, Mrs. Ashley lived alone in the house. Nieces and nephews visited on occasion. She was used to taking care of herself. At the age of 15 she had left school to keep house for her parents and three brothers.

She loved to cook and kept her mind busy by reading. In 1963, Selectman Benjamin R. Evans presented her with the gold tipped cane honoring her as the town's oldest resident, a memento she cherished but didn't have to use until last year.

At 101 she was still living by herself, doing most of her own cooking and light housework reading the newspaper daily and taking a keen interest in the weather. Her mantle was covered with a few of the 70 cards and messages some from prominent government officials, she received when she became a centenarian. On her front table was a portrait of President John F. Kennedy, who was younger when he died than she was when he was born.

Mrs. Ashley moved to the Island Terrace Nursing Home in 1966. There at a three day birthday celebration last year, she finally divulged the secret of her young looking skin and her general good health - "soap and water and keeping busy."

She is the daughter of William and Frances (Hundley) Howland. She lived to be 104 years, 10 months, and 11 days. She is survived by a niece, and grand niece.

Article appeared in the Standard Times

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  • Created by: Zachary W.
  • Added: 14 Nov 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 61618776
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Mary Ellen “Nellie” Howland Ashley (3 Nov 1863–22 Sep 1968), Find A Grave Memorial no. 61618776, citing Pine Island Cemetery, Dartmouth, Bristol County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Zachary W. (contributor 47008223) .