Asher River Mendonsa, 27, of Chattanooga, known professionally as “Asher Love,” breathed his last breath on Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at his home with his parents, Gloria and Andy Mendonsa by his side.
A passionate photographer since the age of eight, Asher was seldom seen without a camera in his hands before his accident on May 23, 2005, when he was taking pictures in an abandoned building and fell almost 40 feet. Miraculously, Asher survived the fall, but not without suffering multiple catastrophic injuries including a broken back, a broken neck and a traumatic brain injury.
It was after leaving Shepherd in January 2006 that Asher changed his name to Asher Love, because he said that he was no longer the person he had been after his accident, after coming out of a coma at Shepherd with the realization that he was paralyzed from the chest down (C-5 quadriplegic ). Asher always, thereafter identified Shepherd as the place where he was reborn in the new person of Asher Love.
No longer having the use of his hands and fingers, nor the use of his right arm (and he was right-handed), Asher maneuvered through life only with the use of his left arm. He drove his powered wheelchair with his left arm, used a computer and cell phone as well as continued to take amazing photographs. In fact, over the next, almost 10 years of his life, Asher lived and breathed photography, having at one time his own photography studio and art gallery, The Asher Love Art Gallery, in the business district in St. Elmo.
Asher was always determined to not use any of his disabilities, and they were many, as an excuse for not accomplishing what he was determined to accomplish as a photographer. In fact, only a few years after his accident one of his photographs was selected to be included in a state-wide art show in Nashville for Artist in Tennessee living with disabilities. After participating in that event, Asher was determined never to participate in such an event again. From that point forward, Asher wanted to be known only as a artist who also happened to be disabled and never again as a disabled artist.
Finally, in September 2013, due to no fault of his own, Asher was plagued by health issues related to his quadriplegia that were the beginning of a prolonged decline in his health that would ultimately lead to his passing on from this life. It was during this last part of his life, though, that Asher, who was a self-proclaimed atheist, cried out to God one night and asked Jesus to comfort him, and he received, at that moment a comforting that he had never been able to know before since his accident.
From that moment forward Asher let everyone know that he had become “A Follower of Jesus,” but at the same time he refused to be labeled a Christian. For him, and what he had experienced through the isolation and general abandonment that occurred in his life by almost everyone after he became a quadriplegic, the ways that he believed Christianity in America has today, culturally become, that it could not be equated in any way with what he believed that it really meant to be a “Follower of Jesus.” It can truly be said that from the moment that Asher became a “Follower of Jesus,” he remained so until the moment he breathed his last breath.
For those who knew him, Asher’s dry wit, love of a broad and diverse range of music and his outrageous and mutual love of his Basset hounds, Henry and Thumper, enriched all of our lives.
A huge thank you to all the nurses over the years who have loved and sacrificed to give Asher loving care and dignity. Their kindness to us and Asher cannot be measured.
Asher is survived by his parents, Andy and Gloria Mendonsa; grandparents, Beverly Jackson, of Chattanooga and Suzanne Mendonsa, of Savannah, GA; aunts and uncles, Rich and Jan Moore, of Nashville, Becky and Heldur Nork, of Memphis, Don and Jill Mendonsa of Chesapeake, VA, Karen and Larry Jacobs, Lisa Danzig and Frank Minerva all of New York, N.Y., Terry Danzig, of New Jersey, Richard and Maureen Danzig, of Atlanta, Emily Danzig and Dan Krautheimer, of Savannah, GA., Penny and Nelson Farr, of Atlanta; great-aunt, Catherine Davis, of Canton, GA, and many cousins.
Asher was predeceased by his sister, Hadrienne Kathleen Mendonsa, grandparents, Don Mendonsa, of Savannah, GA, Dick Jackson, of Chattanooga, Rev. Richard and Mary Moore, of Chattanooga, and great uncle, Dr. Harry N. Davis, Canton, Ga.
Asher’s parents will be receiving family and friends at their home on Friday afternoon, from 4-6 p.m. on April 24, with a private service to follow with just the family, please.
Suggestions for places that donations can be made in memory of Asher are Shepherd Spinal & Brain Injury Center in Atlanta, http://give.shepherd.org/ways-to-give, Siskin Hospital for Rehabilitation in Chattanooga, www.siskinrehab.org/giving-special-events, and Hospice of Chattanooga, www.hospiceofchattanooga.org.
Local arrangements are by Covenant Funeral & Crematory, Crox family owned and operated, www.CovenantFuneral.com.