November 6, 1947 - July 16, 2018
Born in McKinney, Texas on November 6, 1947 to the late William E. Ashley and Mary Nadine Jones Ashley, Tommy was the only son in a family with three sisters. In second grade, someone told Tommy he wasn’t smart—and he always believed that, despite many others disagreeing with that assessment throughout his life.
As a child, Tommy spent much of his time disappearing outside to do who knows what, which would always worry his older sister to no end. By high school, he joined the football team at McKinney High School where he was deemed a standout tackle and kicker. In his senior year, his classmates understandably bestowed on him the title of “Most Popular.”
Tommy attended Grayson College for a few years before he left to apply to the McKinney police force. While still a rookie, a domestic violence assailant killed Tommy’s partner and shot and wounded Tommy. Upon awakening in the hospital, one of Tommy’s first thoughts was that he had chosen not to spend a nickel to add cheese to the burger he had eaten before being shot. After that, he vowed to “always get the cheese.” And that became his motto for life.
Shortly thereafter, Tommy joined the Plano Police Department where he spent the next 34 years. He would often say that he had concluded the best way not to get shot again was to move up in the ranks. So he did. He retired in 2005 with the rank of Captain.
During his tenure with the Plano Police Department, Tommy received numerous citizen commendations, as well as the department’s Valor Award. One incident, in particular, was very memorable for him. He had entered a building where an active shooter was threatening police and residents. In his usual humorous, self-deprecating manner, Tommy later said he entered the building primarily because it was cold outside and he wanted to get warm. In so doing, though, he saved many others from being shot.
Tommy’s commitment to always “get the cheese” led him to new ways to express himself. He learned how to pilot small planes, ski and play golf. And he loved to travel, regaling friends and family with stories about his adventures.
One of his favorite stories involved his developing a severe gastrointestinal illness while on a trip to England. A traveling companion went to a nearby store and picked up an OTC medication recommended by the pharmacist. Tommy recalled he awoke several days later feeling much better. Seems the “OTC medication” contained a mix of morphine and another medication.
After retiring in 2005, Tommy lived and traveled in Mexico, thoroughly enjoying his time there. People of all ages were attracted to his charismatic charm. He would often say that Mexico always made him realize how very rich he was. So he would bring thousands of suckers on his journeys, driving through small villages and throwing them out to all the kids playing outdoors. He would also throw new balls directly into soccer games because he loved seeing the astonished looks on their faces.
His travels in Mexico were cut short when he and his traveling partner were arrested one day and had to spend the night in jail after police found a small amount of ammunition in his car (Mexico had and still has a ban on any ammunition being brought into the country). After spending almost $20,000 to clear his name, Tommy decided to end his travels to and in Mexico.
Tommy was someone who found dignity in people from all walks of life. He always made a point of learning a person’s first name regardless of whether that person was a Sonic carhop or a UTSW neuro oncologist.
Above all, Tommy will always be remembered by those who knew him as a man with a kind heart, an unbounded generosity of spirit, and a robust sense of humor. One could not be in his presence for very long without laughing. His girlfriend of many years once said that it was good he was funny because his humor allowed him to get away with a lot. And that assessment amused him.
Tommy Lee Ashley is survived by Karen Risser, his longtime “best gal and pie eating partner,” and his sisters Nancy Kruse (Jackie), Sara Young, and Sharon Butler (Clarence), as well as numerous nephews and nieces. Through the years his sisters came to be known not by their names but rather as “Tommy Ashley’s sister”—and that pleased them greatly. Tommy had special place in his heart for his nephew, Blake Butler, who shared his love of shooting and spending a day at the gun range—one of his favorite places.
A connoisseur of cheese, chicken fried steak, shrimp and, of course, pie, Tommy will be sorely missed by all those whose lives were touched by him.
A memorial service to celebrate his life will be at 2:00 P.M., Sunday, July 22, 2018 at Cross Creek Ranch located at 3406 Dublin Road, Parker, Texas 75022.
Arrangements are under the direction of
ARIA Cremation Service and Funeral Home
19310 Preston Road
Dallas, Texas 75252
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