Ralph Lawrence Ashton
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Ralph Lawrence Ashton
  • June 28, 1922 - December 20, 2014
  • Salt Lake City, Utah

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Ralph L. Ashton

Ralph Ashton passed peacefully from this life on the morning of December 20th in Salt Lake City.
Ralph was born in Roosevelt, Utah on June 28th, 1922, son of Rae and Eve Ashton, prominent Vernal merchants. He attended grammar school in Vernal, Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, and graduated from Stanford University in 1947. While at Stanford, he was leaving a party one night when he saw a beautiful girl across the room. He decided at once to stay a little longer, saying to a friend, "I'm going to marry that girl". And that's just what he did, making Virginia Walker his bride in September of 1947. Ralph and Virginia were a devoted, loving couple, celebrating over 56 years together before Virginia's death in 2003. They raised a family of 4 children in an atmosphere of love and togetherness , spiced with a strong sense of humor.
During World War II, Ralph served honorably in the Philippines as an army platoon commander. After the war, he was stationed in Japan as Special Services and Athletic director with the 1st Cavalry Division where, among other duties, he enjoyed arranging basketball and volleyball games with the Russians. Later, he became head of the Vernal National Guard, in which capacity he had the distinction of serving as Honor Guard for General Douglas MacArthur at various functions.
After returning from the service, Ralph joined his father, mother and brother in running Ashton Brothers, the long-established family mercantile business. To the department and grocery store operation, the Ashtons added an oil-well supply company to serve the growing Rangely oil fields, together with a construction company, which helped build the villages of Bonanza and Rangely, as well as many Vernal homes. Ralph was president of these Ashton Brothers Company divisions.
Ralph called Vernal one of the "finest towns in the state", and he was very active in many civic organizations. A member of the original Vernal Chamber of Commerce, Uintah County Hospital Board, AT&T board, and Flying Diamond Oil Co. Board, he was also president of the Rotary Club, Knife and Fork Club, Dinaland Country Club, and the Men's Golf Association. An avid, pro-level golfer, Ralph was one of the original founders of the Vernal Golf Club and he assisted in designing the course. In Salt Lake City, he served on various Salt Lake Country Club committees and the Mountain States Telephone board.
A natural athlete, Ralph excelled not only at golf, but also at tennis and basketball and carried home numerous trophies. Age proved to be no barrier: in his late 80s, he was still playing several rounds of golf a week. And his expertise wasn't limited to active sports: He was also unbeatable at Gin Rummy, to the frustration of his card-playing children.
Ralph was a respected and beloved member of the St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral congregation, where he was often called upon to read the lesson with his booming "church voice". He had a genuine love for his fellow churchgoers and was fond of greeting them with a hug and a big smile. He regularly attended Thursday Bible classes, where he confounded the others in the room with his tough questions. He will be sorely missed at St. Mark's.
A great storyteller, Ralph would fascinate listeners with his vast knowledge of Uintah Basin history. He loved to recount anecdotes about Butch Cassidy, Elzy Lay, Harry Longabaugh, and others, and was often consulted as an authority. His talent for imitation and mimic gave an extra spark to any stories he told and he always had his amused listeners roaring with laughter.
Ralph lived life to the fullest. Those who knew him would agree that he was "larger than life" and truly one of a kind. He loved his family more than anything, and they returned that love. He will be missed by his children Michael Ashton (Billy), Larry Ashton (Alicia), Virginia Bostrom (Don), and Marjorie Coleman (Skip), and grandchildren Don Coleman (Amanda), David Coleman, PJ Coleman, Stephen Coleman, Ivey Bostrom and Ashley Bostrom.

Our family would like to thank his many close friends who visited, wrote to him or spoke with him regularly by phone. These friendships were so important to him. We would especially like to thank his close and dear friend Ann Ellingson who visited dad regularly and spoke with him by phone sometimes multiple times daily. Anne's friendship with dad and her unwavering support meant the world to him and to our family. We also thank his physical therapist and friend, Gisela Tippetts (who he affectionately called "the bird") for helping dad maintain his quality of life through a consistent relationship of trust and caring.
The funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday, January 2, 2015 at The Cathedral Church of St. Mark with the Very Rev'd Raymond J. Waldon officiating and the Very Rev'd Jack C. Potter and Very Rev'd Rick Q. Lawson assisting. Inurnment will be in the Columbarium at the Cathedral. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to The Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, 1175 West Baseline Road, Claremont, CA 91711; The Moran Eye Center, 65 Mario Capecchi Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah 84132; the University Orthopaedic Center, 590 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, Utah 84108; Wasatch Academy, 120 South 100 West, Mt. Pleasant, Utah 84647 or The Cathedral Church of St. Mark, 231 East 100 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84111.