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Clarke B. Ash

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CLARKE B. ASH Clarke B. Ash, 87, a retired Florida newspaper editor, died Saturday, January 29, 2011 at Atlantic nursing home in Vero Beach, FL. He was born in Mankato, MN on October 19, 1923. When he was two years old his mother, Mae Clarke Ash contracted tuberculosis prompting his father, Benedict Samuel Ash, a pharmacist, to move the family to Pittsburgh. There he grew up in the warm, rollicking Clarke family household which included his grandparents and a dozen aunts and uncles. Thanks to determination and the development of antibiotics his mother recovered. She returned from a North Carolina sanitarium and his parents were reunited in time to send their son off to St. Justin's High School in Pittsburgh where he excelled academically and was senior class president, earning a full scholarship to The University of Dayton. At the beginning of his sophomore year at Dayton he enlisted in the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Program completing basic training at Keesler Field, Biloxi, MS. He was then assigned to the College Training Detachment at Tennessee Polytechnic Institute, Cookeville, TN. Cadet Ash received pre flight training at Maxwell, Primary Flight Training at Shaw Field, Orangeburg, SC. He completed Basic Flight Training at Sumter, SC and continued to an Advanced twin-engine course at Moody field, Valdosta, GA, receiving his wings with Class 44D in April of 1944. Lt. Ash was then assigned to instructor training school at Randolph Field, San Antonio, TX. He instructed only one class at Moody Field when he was sent to B-17 transition school at Hendricks Field, Sebring, FL, receiving crew training as a first pilot at Avon Park, FL. In March of 1945 he flew a B-17 and crew from Savannah, GA, to England via Labrador, Greenland and Iceland. Assigned to the 326 Squadron, 92nd Bomb Group, 40th Bomb Wing. He completed eight missions over Germany, including the last mission the 8th Air Force Bomb Wing completed over Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. He was scheduled to fly the lead for his bomber group when the war ended. In June of 1945 Lt. Ash was assigned to "Green Project," Istres, France, ferrying personnel from Marsailles to and from Casablanca. In September of 1945, Ash was assigned, with his crew, as pilot for Brigadier General Mustoe. General Mustoe moved the 40th Bomb Headquarters to Erlangen, Germany. Ash was promoted to the rank of Captain and served as the Flight Field Operations Officer until his return to the States. Capt. Ash was awarded the Air Medal for exceptional duty in combat after skillfully making an emergency landing in a Belgian farm field to provide medical care for a wounded gunner. He then safely returned the severely damaged B17 to home base in England. The wounded crew member survived. He also received The World War II Medal and The European, African, Middle Eastern Campaign Medal as well as the Army of Occupation Medal for post war duty in Germany. After his discharge from the Army Air Force, Ash returned to The University of Dayton where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, Suma Cum laude. He joined the Dayton Daily news as a reporter and his first assignment was to cover his own graduation ceremony. After a brief period as Public Relations Director for the Columbia Gas System in Columbus, OH, where he produced an award winning movie based on the building of a gas pipeline across the Mississippi River, Ash returned to journalism and was named associate editor of the Miami News. During his direction of the Miami news editorial page, the newspaper won three Pulitzer Prizes. One for the reporting of the Cuban Missile Crisis by Hal Hendricks, now a Vero Beach resident, and two for political cartoons drawn by Don Wright who later followed Ash to the Palm Beach Post as editorial page cartoonist. Ash retired from the Palm Beach Post in 1990 and became a resident of Vero Beach. He was most proud of his effective campaigns to protect the Florida environment. Former Governor Claude Kirk, upon signing an award for his achievements, wrote, "Clarke Ash has served the public with concise reporting of the continued pollution problems in the Dade County area, the problems of the proposed Everglades jetport, and the unrestricted development in South Dade. Clarke Ash and his newspaper led a valiant fight to create the Biscayne National Monument. His newspaper has been a leader in our continuing effort to protect the Everglades National Park." Mr. Ash was also recognized by President Lyndon Johnson, from whom he reciveced an award for leadership and support in passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Gov. Kirk also stated, "The editorial philosophy of this editor has been one of man living in harmony with nature and the contributions of Clarke Ash stand as a hallmark in Florida journalism for others to follow." After his retirement in 1990, Clarke Ash continued his environmental advocacy by joining the board of McKee Botanical Gardens, serving a term as President. He is survived by his wife of fifty four years, Agnes McCarty Ash, and his sons, Eric, of West Palm Beach, FL, and James of Tallahassee, FL. His daughter, Jennifer Ash Rudick of New York City, NY also survives as does a step son, David Jones of Merritt Island, FL. In notes prepared for his biography, Ash wrote, " Four fine children and a growing number of exceptional grandchildren." Grand-children include, Tom, James, Eleanor, Ryan, Michael, Emily and Caroline Ash as well as Clarke and Amelia Rudick. His step grandchildren Adam and Jennifer Jones also survive him. To express condolences and/or make donations Visit PalmBeachPost.com/obituaries
Published in The Palm Beach Post from Feb. 1 to Feb. 8, 2011
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