Great-Granddaughter Of Brigham Young Turns 100 In Chattanooga

Monday, June 26, 2017 - by Lisa Williams
The Ashbys on their wedding day
The Ashbys on their wedding day

Ruth Ashby, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) of the Harrison Bay Ward (congregation), turns 100 on Tuesday.  Born in 1917, in Cardston, Alberta, Canada in a little house on the corner, Ruth had an idyllic childhood where she played with her seven siblings on a backyard whirly gig – a wagon wheel with the axle cemented into the ground.  With the wheel part free to spin round and round two and half feet off the ground, Ruth and her siblings would hang on for the ride of their lives.



If you asked her now, Mrs. Ashby would tell you she is still enjoying life’s adventures just as much today as yesterday when she played in her sandbox and flower gardens, too, with the beautiful LDS Cardston Alberta Temple just up the road.  Having been born of goodly parents to Joseph Young Card and Pearl Eliza Christensen Card, the temple has always served as a beacon of light for Ruth and her family as the temple is a sacred place where families can be sealed together forever and where individuals make promises to keep God’s commandments and serve others as Jesus would do.  


Ruth remembers the summer of 1923 when President Heber J. Grant of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came from Salt Lake City, Utah to dedicate the Cardston Alberta Temple.  Only six years old at the time, Ruth never forgot the sweet feelings she felt – feelings that would lead to her own temple marriage.  Of the temple, Ruth’s father, who served as counselor in the Temple presidency, was quoted in the Lethbridge Daily Herald on August 27, 1923, as saying, Impressive and unique, it occupies a distinctive place of its own in the historic field of architecture. ... It has the Grecian massiveness, a Peruvian touch, and is similar only to the ancient temples of the Aztecs. ... Of the nine temples erected by the Latter Day Saints, there is no other of similar exterior design.”  Today, there are 156 operating, 3 under renovation, 12 under construction, and 14 announced LDS Temples in the world, and the Cardston Alberta Temple still remains rather unique. 


Educated in the Cardston public schools, Ruth’s 8th grade teacher was N. Eldon Tanner, who would later become a member of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Ruth said, “He so gently but firmly helped me to see my true worth and set me on the path forward.  It was in his class that I discovered the thrill of learning.  I thank God for such a teacher.”


Ruth’s thirst for learning would take her to new places.  At 18, she went to Salt Lake City to study at the LDS Hospital Nursing School.  Her mother had been one of the early graduates of the school and Ruth wanted to care for others like her mother did.  After receiving her credentials as a Registered Nurse, Ruth went to Provo, Utah where she worked as the school nurse at Brigham Young University (BYU).  In case of emergencies, there was no health care plan in place for students to receive hospital care, if necessary.  Ruth saw the need for a health insurance plan for students and presented the need to her uncle, Hugh B. Brown, who was a prominent attorney, a member of the BYU Board of Regents, and would later become a member of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Subsequently, BYU adopted a health insurance plan – and the McDonald health building was also constructed.


In the fall of 1939 while still at BYU, Ruth Card met Will Ashby.  Will had served an LDS mission with Ruth’s brother, Brigham, in France.  Will first introduced himself to Ruth at the BYU Medical office where she was working.  “Our first date was almost a lemon,” she said.  “I forgot to put Frank Springer’s name on my calendar as he had asked me out in advance of Will.  Both showed up and when Will discovered that Frank was there to take me out, Will persuaded one of my roommates to go out with him.”  It was a “whirly gig” of an experience but the four friends made the most of the double date, and Will and Ruth found a way to turn lemons into lemonade.


Will took Ruth to meet his mother.  “I loved the way Will treated his wonderful little mother, Hannah Cropper Ashby.  I loved her from the start.  She was a wonder of kindness, love, wisdom and intelligence.  I felt uplifted just visiting with her.  And I thought more highly of Will for the love and respect he showed for her,” Ruth said.  Although she was dating several fellows, Ruth made a measuring stick of what she wanted in a husband.  “I measured fellows against it,” she said.  “Then I followed the direction the Lord gives us.  I thought it out in my mind.  Then I asked God if it was right.  Will came out on top.  We married on September 9, 1940.” 


Ruth and Will had five children – William Card Ashby, Arda Ruth Ashby, Erin Kay Ashby, Lynn Eric Ashby and Eda Victoria Ashby.  “The 50’s were wonderful years,” Ruth said.  During those years, the Ashbys lived in Connecticut and Delaware, and “Will won a prize for the best kept and loveliest yard in our area.”  In 1961, Dupont transferred Will to Chattanooga, where he and Ruth put down roots. 


They bought nearly five acres near Chickamauga Lake.  As well as being a devoted wife and homemaker, Ruth worked as a school nurse for Brainerd High School.  At age 54, she was awarded a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.  Afterwards, Ruth taught nursing at Cleveland State Community College.  Later, Will and Ruth served together as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Miami, Florida, Mauritius, and South Pittsburg.  Eventually Will contracted Parkinson’s, and was left partially paralyzed from a stroke.  Ruth cared for him.  And, in 2000, Will passed away. 


Will and Ruth had 24 grandchildren and over 65 great-grandchildren.  “My life has been filled with miracles,” Ruth said.  “I grew up in a home where I never heard a disagreement between my parents.  Contention was not part of our home.  I found and married my eternal companion.  To this day, I am still surrounded by those I love.”  Nowadays, Ruth happily lives with with her son Eric and his lovely and equally wonderful wife, Florence Pratt Ashby, in Chattanooga, where Ruth continues to dedicate her time and resources to the family and friends she has cultivated throughout the seasons of her life.  She has written several inspirational books to let them know how much she loves them.  As she approaches her 100th birthday, Mrs. Ruth Ashby – whose great-grandfather is Brigham Young – is an example of a life well lived.  After 100 years of adventure that took her from a little house on the corner of Cardston to a five-acre piece of Tennessee, Ruth is looking forward to being reunited with Will, the man she married for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints almost 80 years ago.


On Tuesday, June 27, 2017 from 7-8:30 pm, a birthday celebration will be held in honor of Sister Ruth Card Ashby at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located at 3067 Ooltewah Ringgold Road in Ooltewah.

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