Gerald Arthur Ashford, 85, went home to be with his Lord on Aug. 25 at Parkdale Manor Care Center in Maryville, Mo., of complications from lung disease.
Born April 28, 1934, in Joplin, Mo., to George and Bertha Ashford, Jerry was the fifth of six very active and creative brothers. He graduated from Joplin High School in 1952 and worked for a short time at Southwestern Sash and Door in Joplin before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force. Jerry served as a jet aircraft mechanic, stationed in Landstuhl, Germany, until 1958.
He and his wife Betty (Wilson) married on Nov. 2, 1958 at Braddyville (Iowa) Christian Church. Jerry enrolled in aeronautics school at Northrop Aeronautical Institute in Los Angeles. After receiving his A&P license, he took a job as a mechanic with United Airlines and accepted a transfer to Denver, where he and Betty had family. Jerry and Betty and their two daughters lived in the Denver area until 1974.
Wanting to return to a smalltown environment, Jerry left his job with United and the family moved to Gunnison, Colo. The uncertain economy took Jerry through several short-term jobs, including auto mechanics and carpentry, until he settled at Western State College in the maintenance department. During the Gunnison years, Jerry enjoyed hunting, four-wheeling, and trying to find the perfect cup of coffee.
In 1983, Jerry and Betty returned to southwestern Missouri, Jerry’s birthplace, to care for his elderly mother and aunt. They built an underground house in Pineville, and Jerry soon regained his southern accent. Both took jobs at the Walmart/Sam’s Club corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. By 2001, both had retired, and they spent several years RV traveling, gardening and enjoying family and friends. When maintaining their six acres became a burden, Jerry gave his beloved Shopsmith to a fledgling carpenter, and he and Betty relocated to Maryville, Mo., near Betty’s family, in March 2019.
Jerry Ashford was never more “Jerry” than when fixing something or solving a problem. A master carpenter with exacting skills, he made many pieces of furniture and cabinetry that grace his own home as well as those of family and friends. As a self-taught watercolorist, he brought his own unique, detailed style to his many western-themed paintings. He maintained his own vehicles and made sure his daughters knew how to buy a decent car. He was always willing to help family, friends, and even friends of friends with maintenance, building, refurbishing, landscaping, and any other task that needed doing (including building chicken coops). Jerry and Betty, lifelong Christians, have held membership at several churches throughout Colorado and Missouri.
Jerry is survived by Betty, his wife of 60 years; two daughters: Jeron Ashford and Sheri Kokesh; three granddaughters: Annalyn Frame, Rennie (David) Volpe, and Marlise Frame; and two great-grandchildren: Darren and Vita Volpe.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. today, Aug. 29, at Braddyville Christian Church, Braddyville, Iowa. Burial will be at Braddyville Iowa Cemetery. Military funeral honors will be provided by the Clarinda American Legion Post #98. Memorial contributions may be made to Maryville Mosaic Hospice Foundation, 2332 S. Main, Maryville, MO 64468. Arrangements from Price Funeral Home, Maryville, Mo. Online condolences can be made to the family at pricefuneralhomemaryville.com .