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Columbia Missourian

Mary 'Lou' Starrett Ashley loved the arts, traveling

By Lauren Gatcombe
January 11, 2013 | 3:31 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA— A phrase Mary "Lou" Ashley said on many occasions was, "this has been a wonderful life! I have loved it all!"

Her daughter Pam Ashley, said her mother felt so blessed about the life she lived and was always optimistic and positive.

"Even when she became more sedentary in the past few years, she never complained," Pam Ashley said.

Mary "Lou" Starrett Ashley died Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. She was 84.

She was born June 5, 1928 to James Conrad and Elizabeth (Dunscomb) Starrett.

She graduated from MU with a bachelor's degree in education. She first attended Sullens School for Women on the East Coast before transferring to MU, where she met her husband, Dave Ashley.

Pam Ashley said her mother drove a yellow convertible around campus, especially Greek town because she was a member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority, and her father would see her getting out of it with her red curly hair.

"He kept seeing her and made a point to introduce himself," Pam Ashley said. "From there their relationship developed rather quickly."

Dave Ashley was a football player at MU under Coach Donald Faurot, and under the athletic rules at the time, athletes were not allowed to be married, Pam Ashley said. 

"So in his last year of school he was getting his master's, and they secretly eloped," Pam Ashley said.

Mrs. Ashley worked as a real estate broker from 1976 until retiring in 2005. She co-founded the House of Brokers Reality in 1981.

Mrs. Ashley held the office of president of the Columbia Board of Realtors on three occassions during her career. 

She and her husband were lifetime members of the MU Alumni Association and attended MU basketball and football games frequently for 45 years.

Mrs. Ashley was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, where she participated in the choir. 

She loved all types of music, including jazz and swing. Dancing and seeing theatre productions were also among her hobbies. Ms. Ashley was a member of a dance club called the "Saturday Nighters." She danced until she was 81 years old.

"She loved everything having to do with the arts," Pam Ashley said.

Mrs. Ashley was a world traveler and took trips to Mexico, Hawaii, Panama, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. 

Mrs. Ashley is survived by her daughters, Pam Ashley and Sandra Ashley of Columbia; her grandchildren, Brooke Ashley Maples of Westport, Conn., Emily and Alex Thornton of Columbia; and three great-grandchildren.

Her husband, Dave Ashley, her parents and relatives Elizabeth and Connie Starrett died earlier.

Visitation will be held Monday from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 East. A graveside ceremony will follow at 2:30 p.m. Interment will be at Memorial Park Cemetery.

Memorial contributions can be made to Rainbow House, 1611 Towne Drive, the National Stroke Association, 9707 East Easter Lane, Suite B, Centennial, CO 80112, or the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, 2101 Vandiver Drive.

Tributes can be posted at