Fred Ashton (politician)
|Mayor of Easton, Pennsylvania|
1968 – 1976
|Preceded by||George S. Smith|
|Succeeded by||Henry Schultz|
|Born||March 7, 1931
|Died||May 9, 2013
Seaside Heights, New Jersey
|Alma mater||Lafayette College
Fred L. Ashton, Jr. (March 7, 1931 – May 9, 2013) was an American politician who served as the Mayor of Easton, Pennsylvania, from 1968 to 1976. Ashton also served as the first strong mayor of Easton, beginning with his inauguration for a second term in 1972. He was a member of the Republican Party.
Aston was born in Easton, Pennsylvania, on March 7, 1931 to Fred L. Ashton Sr. and Jean Melick Ashton. He graduated from Easton Area High School in 1948. He enlisted in the United States Army, which stationed him in West Germany at the time of the Korean War in the early 1950s. 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. Originally a licensed funeral director by profession, Aston worked for the Schuylkill Haven Casket Company. He co-owned the Ashton Funeral Home with his brother, R. Kline Ashton, until 1970.
Fred Ashton was elected to the Easton city council from 1963 to 1967. He was elected Mayor of Easton as a Republican in 1967 and took office in 1968, succeeding outgoing Mayor George S. Smith. He won re-election for a second term in 1971, becoming Easton's first strong mayor. 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. Larry Holmes Drive, a portion of Pennsylvania Route 611, was completed in downtown Easton during his tenure. 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. The older buildings were razed and replaced by a fast-food restaurant, movie theater, hotel, and gas station, which were constructed on the site. 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.
Ashton lost his bid for a third term in November 1975 and left office in January 1976. He was succeeded by Mayor Henry Schultz. He ran again for Mayor in 1983, but lost that election. (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. In total, Fred Ashton ran for Mayor during five different elections: 1967, 1971, 1975, 1985, and 1988.
He had been living with his sister since Hurricane Sandy damaged his own Seaside Heights home in October 2012. Ashton died at his sister's residence, also in Seaside Heights, on May 9, 2013, at the age of 82. He was survived by his wife of 60 years, the former Shirley Adams; five children, and fourteen grandchildren. Ashton was buried in Easton Cemetery.
- "George Smith, Councilman In Easton, Dies At 79". Allentown Morning Call. 1986-12-27. Retrieved 2013-06-28.
- Theodore, Bevin (2008-06-19). "Former Easton mayor Henry Schultz dies Tuesday at 98". PennLive.com. Retrieved 2013-06-28.
- "Former Easton Mayor Fred Ashton dies at 82". WFMZ. 2013-05-09. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
- "Former Easton Mayor Fred Ashton dies". The Express-Times. 2013-05-09. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
- "Fred L. Ashton Jr. obituary". The Express-Times. 2013-05-09. Retrieved 2013-06-08.