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ASHMORE, William Blair


ASHMORE William Blair

On January 14th in the winter of his 93rd year, Blair Ashmore died peacefully in the home he loved surrounded by his family.

Blair’s life began in Palmerston Ont., a railway town during the golden age of rail travel. In his youth, he was passionate about trains and dreamed of becoming a train engineer. This did not transpire. He went on to graduate from Western University followed by the University of Toronto and became a teacher/vice principal. However, his love of trains never left him. On one occasion during a road trip out west he jumped aboard the Trans Canada in Banff, and with wife and daughter following by car went through to Golden, BC. If he could, he would have gone straight through to the coast. He introduced his bride, Kay to the transcontinental train from Washago to Vancouver. This passion for rail continued right up to his 90’s with numerous family train trips on the Rocky Mountaineer.

Blair’s father (Frederick Thomas) was a merchant and his mother (Annie Evelyn) a teacher. Predeceased by his only sibling, Shirley Anne in 1945. From all three, he inherited the talents of entrepreneurship and life-long learning.

His affinity for business began with operating an ice cream shop in Wasaga Beach for a few summers as a young teacher and continued when he purchased and operated Woodington House on Lake Rosseau during the 60’s. He would finish teaching school in June, operate the “Lodge” until Labour Day weekend and then, be back in class for the first day of school. He went on to enjoy a long relationship with Santa’s Village in Bracebridge as a Director. 

Blair’s life was also one of community service and volunteering. He was a member of the Y’s men, likely due to “Skid” Watson’s mentorship when he first arrived in Orillia and boarded at the “Y”. He was a lifelong Mason/Shriner, served as a School Trustee, volunteered in minor hockey, church warden and President of Chi Rho. 
In addition to all his other interests, he was a great athlete, excelling in track & field, tennis, hockey and curling. In 1979, he received a Life Membership in the Orillia Minor Hockey Association. 

He also had a talent for fundraising. Co-chairing with Dr Tom Brandl he helped raise funds in support of building the Brian Orser Arena in Orillia. This achievement led both men to receive the Orillia Citizen of the Year Award in 1974. 

In his late 80’s, he was asked to chair a successful fundraising campaign to refurbish the steeple of St James Anglican Church. He had a knack of getting his five grandchildren to drive him by the project to monitor progress. So much so, the cheeky young people started to call him a steeple chaser!

All this would not have been possible without the love and support of two women. Our mother, Muriel Margaret Ashmore (deceased 2010) and our step mother Kathleen Page Ashmore. Life with Blair was always interesting and, as a neighbour commented during one of his birthdays, “how did he find two such incredible women?” 

Blair leaves a family who derived strength and enjoyed full lives due to his work ethic. Left with great memories are daughters, Susanne Ashmore (Fred Achenbach-deceased), Nancy Pigden (Marty), and his son, Peter Ashmore (Marla) as well as loving grandchildren Kristen, Brandon, Stacy, Jessica (John Robert) & Thomas. 

Our family and Blair have been blessed by the care of many: Dr. Catford, Dr. Okafo, Grace, Ninette, Myrtle, Brian, Rexy, Aileen, Jonah, Elyza, Perlyn, Aleli and Dana.

We thank all of the many friends who visited and supported Kay & Blair at home.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to the Mariposa House

Visitation at Mundell Funeral Home 79 West Street North, Orillia Thursday January 17th 2-4 & 7-9 p.m. Members of the Equity Masonic Lodge #659 A.F. & A.M.; G.R.C. and sister lodges are asked to gather in the Chapel for service Thursday evening at 6:45. A Funeral Service will be held at St. James’ Anglican Church, 58 Peter St. N., Orillia on Friday January 18th 11:00 a.m. with a luncheon to follow.

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