Gilbert C. Ashley

August 12, 1926July 11, 2013

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


  • Calling Hours Sunday, July 14, 2013
  • Funeral Mass Monday, July 15, 2013

Gilbert C. Ashley

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Larry Hill

December 24, 2013

Dear Aunt Marie, I think of him daily, as he was like a father to me. I will always remember so many people, students, athletes and family that he mentored and changed their lives. He did mine, and for the better. We all loved him and will always miss him. Larry

Matthew Bond

July 16, 2013

Dear Maria,
I wish I had been able to attend the service yesterday. My heart goes out to you, Renee, and Sonya. I will never be able to measure what a blessing Gilbert has been to me, or how much he taught me. He exemplified what it means to be a loving husband, faithful friend, and gentleman gardener. I'll never be able to look at a Dahlia without remembering him. Your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Elizabeth Lyons

July 15, 2013

I am so sorry to hear of Gilbert's passing. I immensely enjoyed his poetry, letters and wit, and will miss publishing his musings in our newspapers. My condolences to Maria and the rest of his family for their tremendous loss. He was one of a kind.

Denise Gates (Ashley)

July 15, 2013

Dear Aunt Marie! Sending hugs, kisses, and prayers to you and your family. Uncle Gilbert's many talents will be sadly missed by many.
Love Dee, Jared, Meghan, and their families.

July 14, 2013

Dear Maria,
I lost a good friend in Gilbert with whom I shared a passion for flowers and nice gardens. He was most interesting with his poems which I enjoyed reading very much. I have a complete collection that I treasure.
Winnie Laitner

July 14, 2013

Hi Maria,
Gilbert was a friend who I met way too late in my Life. His knowledge in history was outstanding. I will miss him greatly.

Wolfgang Laitner

Mark and Marisa McGuire

July 14, 2013

Dear Marie,
We just heard of Gilbert's passing and please accept our condolences. We loved hearing about stories of walking to school with my Dad and showing us his beautiful garden...his angel date is Dad's closely tied they are. He will be a wonderful addition to God's team even though he will be sorely missed here. PEACE!

Mark and Marisa McGuire

July 14, 2013

Dear Marie, we just heard about Gilbert's passing and want you to know that he and all of your family will be in our prayers. You had an long history with our family and we are proud to say we knew him! Please accept our condolences. He belongs to the ages and proved to be a great participant while here...he'll be a great addition to God's team of angels!

Monica McGuire

July 13, 2013

Dearest Marie,
Just learned of Gilbert's passing and want to express my heartfelt condolences to you and your family. What a remarkable man and a life well lived. I will always cherish him sharing his memories of my late grandfather and father, his childhood friend. May you know God's perfect peace that passes understanding. Love&Hugs, Monica McGuire

July 13, 2013


My thoughts and prayers are with you as you face one of the hardest experiences that a loving spouse can endure. Every time I see a beautiful floral garden, I think of you and Mr. Ashley...

Peace be with you,
Brenda Morrow