Dr. Bruce Ashley, 69, unexpectedly passed away the evening of May 5th, 2016 at Adams County Regional Medical Center as he was finishing his shift of work in his beloved Emergency Department. Bruce was born in Louisville, KY on September 22, 1946. He was the first child, and only son, of Billy Dare and Dorothea Ruth Ashley.
Dr. Ashley was a man of many talents: a country doctor, traveler, sailor, runner, pilot, horseman, hunter, mountain man, “prepper”, poet, musician, husband, father, uncle, grandfather, friend……
As a child, Bruce Ashley was curious and adventurous. He grew to manhood in a Scouting Family with both parents serving as Scout leaders. Bruce achieved Eagle Scout status and through this experience developed a love for the outdoors learning to swim, canoe, camp, backpack, and have respect for all nature’s creatures. His father was a Chemistry Professor at the University of Louisville and a self made Herpetologist. Bill worked at the Fort Knox laboratory conducting research on snake venom. This exposure to his father’s study of snakes led to Bruce’s interest and knowledge of snakes resulting in many snake lectures given over the years. His college years included singing in a Barbershop Quartet as well as singing songs on campus popular to the 60’s with his first wife, Frances Owen and their friends. Bruce Ashley made the decision to become a physician, and during his Medical School experience he initiated the start-up of a health clinic to be operated by the University Medical Students which is still functioning today as a Federal Health Clinic in Louisville, Kentucky. Bruce attended Quaker Meetings while in college and currently is a member of the Yellow Springs Meeting of the Society of Friends.
Dr. Ashley graduated from Butler High School in Louisville, Kentucky Class of 1964 and the University Of Louisville School Of Medicine in 1971. He moved to Adams County with a desire to practice in a rural area and provide quality healthcare to all he served. He loved the area so much; he never left. He began his career, practicing as a family physician at the Adams/Brown Community Action Program (ABCAP), a clinic at Panhandle. He later practiced at the Celebration of Health Clinic in Peebles. Dr. Ashley cared for many patients needing hospitalization and/or delivery of babies during his early years of practice at our local Adams County Hospital. Dr. Ashley served as the Adams County Health Commissioner for many years and provided services as a Registered Sanitarian as needed. He worked in the Emergency Departments at both SOMC in Portsmouth, Ohio and our local Adams County Hospital. Bruce eventually made the decision to pursue and complete Board Certification in Emergency Medicine and become a full time ER physician. He completed a Fellowship Certification in Emergency Medicine, and functioned as the Medical Director for the Emergency Department at the Adams County Regional Medical Center. Bruce also served as the Medical Director of the Emergency Medical System (EMS) in our county and was our physician American Heart Association- Advanced Cardiac Life Instructor (ACLS).
Dr. Ashley served in many roles through his years as a member of the Medical Staff of our Hospital. These would include Chief of the Adams County Hospital Medical Staff, Chairman of the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, Chairman of the Performance and Quality Improvement Committee, and Medical Review Officer (MRO) for the Drug Free Work Place Program. He also served as Medical Director of the Cardiac/Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at ACRMC and again as the Medical Director for the ACRMC Home Care and more recently the newly formed Adams County Home Care in Winchester, Ohio. He belonged to the Ohio Public Health Steering Committee, a part of the Regional Epidemiologist Disease Investigators since its inception, and was an active member of the Regional Physician Advisory Committee in Cincinnati, Ohio.
As a member of the American Mountain Men (AMM), Dr. Ashley camped and rode horses in pre-1840s gear and dress both locally and with a Montana Brigade of AMM in the beautiful Western States of our country. He annually hosted a winter camp for the Ohio Brigade of the AMM on his beloved Adams County farm. As an avid outdoorsman, Bruce took pride in learning how to live off the land.
Both family and friends have often commented, “If you were ever in a survival situation, this is the man you want to be stranded with”.
With Increasing concern for our world economy and security, along with close friends, especially Ed (Sonny) Lykins and Rand Little, Bruce had been meeting with a group of like-minded individuals who were all planning and preparing for “off the grid living”. Thanks to Sonny and Connie Lykins for hosting those meetings.
Bruce Ashley’s love for nature was a part of his everyday life, and all that knew him would agree. One could expect to spot him parked on any county roadside to retrieve a turtle or snake preventing its’ death by oncoming cars or he might have stopped to view and identify a bird with his handy binoculars and Audubon bird book. One time he brought home an owl in the back of his VW Beetle that had been hit by a car (but only stunned) and we housed him on our summer porch for the night to recover. Now you know why he was late to those hospital meetings.
Bruce Ashley MD was preceded in death by parents Billy Dare and Dorothea Ruth Ashley, his close friends and fellow mountain men, especially Bob Schmidt from Montana and Tom Jones from Ohio, his 40 year old mule Hannah, his horse Ladd, and dogs Malikai, Shadow, and Guinness.
Bruce Ashley MD is survived by his best friend and loving wife of 37 years- Sharon Copas-McCarty Ashley, One Sister Pamela Ashley, Four children: Roshanda (Lisa), Jason (Fay), Noah (Mandy), and Jade. Five grandchildren: Keisha, Asa, Sabine, Wyatt, and Isaiah. Niece Ashley (Patrick) Hostetter, nephew Aaron Nathanson and several family members of wife Sharon’s family.
Dr. Ashley also leaves behind a valued family of hospital employees and volunteers, physicians and advanced clinical practitioners, Administration and Hospital Board of Trustee Members as well as many long time friends –notably The Joe Palmer Family of West Union, Ohio and the Rick Ott Family of Columbia, South Carolina.
We were not done learning from this great man. We all loved him well.
Services for Dr. Bruce Ashley will be held at the Thompson- Meeker Funeral Home with visitation on Wednesday, May 11th 4:00-8:00PM and a Celebration of Life Service on Thursday, May 12th at Noon with Rand Little officiating. A private burial service will be held at a later date.
Donations may be made to the Adams County Regional Medical Center’s Foundation with Medical Staff input for spending of contributions.
A Special Thanks to the hospital employees and physician Dr. Aina who worked to save the life of our beloved Dr. Ashley who collapsed while he was unknowingly signing off from his final day of work in the profession he loved.
Also, a heartfelt thanks to the West Union EMS members TJ Adams-Motil and Karen Howelett who transported Bruce to the Organ and Tissue Donor Center to give life and vision to others , and to Montgomery County Autopsy Service to help us understand what had taken the life of this great man.
In addition, thanks to all friends and family who came to be with Dr. Ashley and his family through this great loss.