Fred Ashton (politician)

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Fred Ashton
Mayor of Easton, Pennsylvania
In office
1968[1] – 1976[2]
Preceded by George S. Smith[1]
Succeeded by Henry Schultz[2]
Personal details
Born March 7, 1931
Easton, Pennsylvania
Died May 9, 2013(2013-05-09) (aged 82)
Seaside Heights, New Jersey
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Shirley Adams
Alma mater Lafayette College
Temple University

Fred L. Ashton, Jr. (March 7, 1931 – May 9, 2013) was an American politician who served as the Mayor of Easton, Pennsylvania, from 1968[1] to 1976.[3] Ashton also served as the first strong mayor of Easton, beginning with his inauguration for a second term in 1972.[4] He was a member of the Republican Party.[4]

Biography[edit]

Aston was born in Easton, Pennsylvania, on March 7, 1931 to Fred L. Ashton Sr. and Jean Melick Ashton.[5] He graduated from Easton Area High School in 1948.[4] He enlisted in the United States Army, which stationed him in West Germany at the time of the Korean War in the early 1950s.[4] Ashton received a bachelor's degree from Lafayette College in Easton in 1952 and a master's degree from Temple University in Philadelphia in 1955.[4] Originally a licensed funeral director by profession, Aston worked for the Schuylkill Haven Casket Company.[3] He co-owned the Ashton Funeral Home with his brother, R. Kline Ashton, until 1970.[3]

Political career[edit]

Fred Ashton was elected to the Easton city council from 1963 to 1967.[3] He was elected Mayor of Easton as a Republican in 1967[4] and took office in 1968, succeeding outgoing Mayor George S. Smith.[1] He won re-election for a second term in 1971, becoming Easton's first strong mayor.[4] As mayor, Ashton oversaw the construction of the city's new parking garage, which also houses the Easton Police Department, and a new fire station in the city's College Hill Residential Historic District.[4] Larry Holmes Drive, a portion of Pennsylvania Route 611, was completed in downtown Easton during his tenure.[4] More controversially, Ashton supported an urban renewal project in the vicinity of Third and Washington streets which displaced a large number of businesses operated by the Lebanese American community.[4] The older buildings were razed and replaced by a fast-food restaurant, movie theater, hotel, and gas station, which were constructed on the site.[4] Years later, during a 1987 mayoral election campaign, Ashton defended his decision to tear down the older buildings, arguing that the neighborhood had been blighted and could not have been restored.[4]

Ashton lost his bid for a third term in November 1975 and left office in January 1976.[4] He was succeeded by Mayor Henry Schultz. He ran again for Mayor in 1983, but lost that election.[4] (Incumbent Republican Mayor Phil Mitman won re-election). Ashton announced his candidacy for Mayor again in 1987, but dropped out of the race due to a conflict with his business schedule.[4] In total, Fred Ashton ran for Mayor during five different elections: 1967, 1971, 1975, 1985, and 1988.[4]

Aston lived in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, after leaving local politics.[4] he and his wife operated Crossroads Realty in Lavallette, New Jersey, before his retirement.[3]

He had been living with his sister since Hurricane Sandy damaged his own Seaside Heights home in October 2012.[4] Ashton died at his sister's residence, also in Seaside Heights, on May 9, 2013, at the age of 82.[3] He was survived by his wife of 60 years, the former Shirley Adams; five children, and fourteen grandchildren.[4] Ashton was buried in Easton Cemetery.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "George Smith, Councilman In Easton, Dies At 79". Allentown Morning Call. 1986-12-27. Retrieved 2013-06-28. 
  2. ^ a b Theodore, Bevin (2008-06-19). "Former Easton mayor Henry Schultz dies Tuesday at 98". PennLive.com. Retrieved 2013-06-28. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Former Easton Mayor Fred Ashton dies at 82". WFMZ. 2013-05-09. Retrieved 2013-06-08. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "Former Easton Mayor Fred Ashton dies". The Express-Times. 2013-05-09. Retrieved 2013-06-08. 
  5. ^ "Fred L. Ashton Jr. obituary". The Express-Times. 2013-05-09. Retrieved 2013-06-08.