Chris Schulz Published

Bob Ashley Remembered By Former Colleagues

A woman in a red jacket and white collared shirt sits at a wooden desk as a man in a dark blue suit crouches down to speak with her.
A March 14, 2015 image shows Del. Bob Ashley speaking with Del. Terry Waxman.
Perry Bennett/ West Virginia Legislative Photography

Former legislator and public servant Bob Ashley passed away at the age of 70 this week.

Ashley served 15 terms in the House of Delegates representing Roane and Jackson Counties. In 2015, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin appointed him to the state Senate where he served for a year.

In a statement, Gov. Jim Justice recalled Ashley’s “unique ability to connect with everyone” and said he will be remembered “with nothing but fond memories.” After losing his primary in 2016, Ashley served in Justice’s administration as a regional representative and legislative director. 

“Cathy and I are truly heartbroken about Bob’s passing, and we’ll continue praying for his entire family.

Bob never met a stranger and was an amazing person. He served this state for decades as a delegate, a senator, and as my legislative director and a regional representative. I know that our friends in the House and Senate would agree he had a unique ability to connect with everyone. I never saw Bob without a smile, as he had an unmatched love for life and his work. He was someone you could always rely on, and we will remember Bob with nothing but fond memories.

We ask all West Virginians to keep his family in your prayers.” 

Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, said Ashley first asked him to consider running for office and served as the model legislator.

“Bob was the kind of public servant we unfortunately don’t see enough of these days: the person who runs for public office to serve the greater good. He came from a family of service, and we all should be grateful he and Anita nurtured an even further generation of service.

“Bob represented my district when I was growing up, and he’s who first asked me to consider running for office, serving as the model legislator. He showed how to keep your family first. He led what was then the minority party with a decorum that can be tough to muster when you’re always on the losing side of what you believe is right. And he demonstrated congeniality when he returned some years later as Republicans were in the majority. 

“Maya Angelou said people forget what you say and what you do, but they never forget how you made them feel, and that’s evident with Bob Ashley. He’s leaving us much too early, but if you ever had the pleasure of interacting with Bob, you know that every interaction with him was in fact a pleasure, and always with a smile. He will be sorely missed.”

Sen. Joe Manchin said Ashley’s decades of service were a testament to his devotion to serving West Virginians, and remembered him as a compassionate, principled and widely respected leader.

“Gayle and I are devastated to learn of the passing of our dear friend and longtime West Virginia public servant, Bob Ashley. I had the pleasure of working alongside Bob for many years and his dedication to helping West Virginians was absolutely unmatched. His decades of serving in both the West Virginia House of Delegates and West Virginia Senate are a true testament to his devotion to serving the people of the Mid-Ohio Valley and the entire Mountain State. Bob was a compassionate, principled and widely respected leader and I am grateful to have known him not only as a colleague, but as a true friend. Our hearts and prayers are with his wife, Anita, their sons, Sam and Ben, and all of his loved ones as they mourn this tremendous loss.”

Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, says Ashley’s love for the state was secondary to the love he had for his wife, sons and family, to whom he extended the Senate’s condolences.

“I was shocked to learn of the passing of our former colleague and dear friend, Bob Ashley. Bob’s long and dedicated service to Roane County and the state of West Virginia is a testament to the love he had for this state and its people. That love, of course, was secondary to the love he had for his wife, sons, and grandchildren. On behalf of the Senate, we extend our deepest condolences to Bob’s family, and we will keep them in our prayers as they come together to remember this life well lived.”