George Bamford Ashe
Rear Admiral, United States Navy
by Ann Nicholson Flint
GEORGE BAMFORD ASHE, Rear Admiral, United States Navy, Retired
George Bamford Ashe was born January 19, 1891 in Raleigh, North Carolina, to Captain Samuel A’Court Ashe and Hannah Emerson Willard Ashe.
He began his Naval career July, 1907 when he entered the Naval Academy. During his career, he served through 2 World Wars and numerous uprisings; retired in 1946 as Rear Admiral; died in 1971 and is buried on the famed Virginia hill over which the Custis-Lee Home (now Arlington House) stands watch.
It is altogether fitting that George Ashe should share that bit of hallowed ground that once belonged to General Robert Edward Lee for parallels can be drawn in both their lives. They share a common birth date, January 19th; Lee in 1807 and Ashe in 1891; they both were career military men and were educated in our country's service academies; Lee at West Point; Ashe at Annapolis. They were both born to a life of relative ease who could have been educated at any university they chose or pursued any business career they desired.
What would have prompted them instead to have chosen to live the life of a professional military man? A life separated from family and friends which was all too often filled with danger. Lee and Ashe both served their country well on land and at sea and in looking at their family backgrounds one would see families whose ranks are filled with public servants. The chronicles of the Lee family are legion and well known.
The Ashe family chronicles are not so well known, but are equally varied. The family began in this country with John Baptista Ashe who helped carve civilization out of the Lower Cape Fear area of North Carolina; his sons John Baptista Ashe, Jr. and Samuel Ashe were leaders in the Lower Cape Fear area during the Revolution; John, Jr. had no surviving sons. Samuel was elected Governor of North Carolina by the General Assembly for three consecutive one year terms beginning in 1796 and in his later years was a Superior Court Justice. Samuel had several sons, all of whom like their father served the cause of Revolution and went on to become political and public leaders. Samuel's son, John, like his father, was elected Governor of North Carolina but died before taking office. In these and following generations, we see educators, lawyers, doctors, political and public leaders, three of which served the Confederacy, George Davis who was Attorney General and William Sheppard Ashe who was what we might know as a Secretary of Transportation and William's son, Samuel A'Court Ashe a military strategist. It was Samuel A’Court Ashe, who instilled in his own sons the notion that public service is a calling to which the Ashe family must answer.
Admiral Ashe spent more than 39 years in the
Navy; long periods of separation from his wife, Ellen Lane Williams Ashe
who he married in 1916 and from the rest of his family. It was a
day of great rejoicing and homecoming when he finally retired December
31, 1946 and settled in Berryville, Virginia where he lived out the rest
of his days until the early days February, 1971 when he entered Bethesda
Naval Hospital where he died February 11, 1971 and was later brought to
rest in that hallowed ground we simply call “Arlington.”
ASHE, ELLEN LANE WILLIAMS W/O GEORGE BAMFORD
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 24 April 2004