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Ashley, Tommy Lee

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November 6, 1947 - July 16, 2018

Ashley, Tommy Lee

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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Gerald James Bishop

July 24, 2018 6:52PM

Tommy was my training officer at McKinney PD and taught me everything I ever knew about police work. Well, not everything but some things. Anyway, I always enjoyed being around him! RIP Tommy.

Faye Lindley Terry

July 22, 2018 6:27PM

Tommy will be missed, not by just me, but everyone who knew him, MANY. I will always remember him every time I see or eat at a Hucks, especially the one in Denison. He would meet some there for fish, laughing, enjoying his stories, and his company. Tommy was definitely a People Person. My condolences goes to the sisters, his best pal lady, and all the family. He's in Gods hands now, no pain, no sickness, but full of loving life again.

Devon Talley

July 22, 2018 12:53PM

Tommy was a dearly loved friend to my late husband, Robert, myself and my entire family. Tommy had a special sense knowing what friends needed and generously giving- whether it was accepting a gift, giving a gift, listening- Tommy gave himself genuinely to others.

Devon Talley

July 22, 2018 12:26PM

Tommy was a dearly loved friend to my late husband, Robert, myself and my entire family. Tommy had a special sense knowing what friends needed and generously giving- whether it was accepting a gift, giving a gift, listening, laughing with you- Tommy gave himself genuinely to others. I’ve never known a man more gratified by helping others. He will be sorely missed by legions of friends.

Julie and James Simmons

July 22, 2018 9:46AM

Tommy will be greatly missed.
Words cannot even begin to express our sorrow. Our hearts go out to you and your family at this difficult time. May you be comforted by the outpouring of love surrounding you.

Nancy Truett Powell

July 22, 2018 7:01AM

I've been remembering the very first time I ever saw Tommy---more than six decades ago. He walked into our classroom ready to be there with us, and his face was just the most open, honest, sweet face I had ever seen. So glad he was a classmate, and I'm so glad he started always getting the cheese!


July 20, 2018 2:09PM

We are across the street neighbors since 1988 with Tommy. Could not have requested a better neighbor. Always felt safe with Tommy across the street. He was all these things described and more to us having been blessed to walk across the street, in the unlocked door and spend time visiting. Not easy to go out front since he is gone. Gone, but never ever forgotten. RIP TLA

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