Richard Orran Ashby MDJuly 24, 1936 ~ November 19, 2017 (age 81)
Richard Orran Ashby was born in Salt Lake City, UT in 1936. The oldest of four children born to Orran and Stella Gardner Ashby, was raised in Delta, UT and Phoenix, AZ. He is survived by his brother, Larry, his sister, Margaret (Worth), and was preceded in death by his brother, Ken. At age 20, Richard served a 30-month mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the France/Switzerland Mission. The experience began a lifetime of Christian discipleship, sparked a zest for world travel, and imbued him with a love of his fellow man. Richard was a true renaissance man, with a keen mind, an unquenchable curiosity, and an insatiable thirst for learning, exceeding his mother’s advice to “know something about everything and everything about something.” He attended Caltech, earned a Bachelor of Science from UCLA (1961), and Doctor of Medicine from The Keck School of Medicine of USC (1965).
In 1960, he married Lillian Toft, a charismatic immigrant from Denmark. Together they settled on thirteen acres in Ojai, California, on what affectionately became known to the family as “Hilltop.” After a Family Practice residency in Ventura, CA, he established a private practice (1968). Richard and Lilli raised five children: Lisa Olander, Michelle (Christopher) Yost, Erik (Fawn) Ashby, Kirsten (Carl) Shafer, and Mia (Mark) Johnston, and fostered three Native American children (Marilyn, Rosemary, and Monica Secody). In 1976, after what appeared to be a remission of breast cancer, Richard and Lilli took their five young children, ages 5 to 13, on his second mission for the LDS Church, this time as a medical doctor, on loan to the government of Samoa, serving in the town of Apia, Western Samoa. While there, Lilli did not survive her battle against cancer and was buried in Apia.
When Richard returned to Ventura, he sought to find a way forward. The way forward came in the form of a miracle, Pam Wheeler Stepheson (who had lost her husband to leukemia) and her son, Jeff (Emily) Stepheson. After marrying in 1977, Richard and Pam added three more children, Nathan (Susanne) Ashby, Trevor (Kiwi) Ashby, and Elizabeth (Brian) Starr. With his beloved Pam, they made this family of his, hers, and theirs, “ours.”
During his time in Ventura County, Richard served as an LDS Bishop, Director of the Ventura County Medical Center Ambulatory Care Department, Physician Coordinator, Director of Physician Services and Physician Contracting, and Medical Director of both the VCMC and Health Care Plan. He served on and chaired numerous boards and committees including: Ventura Quality Assessment Committee; the Medical Board, State of California, Quality Assurance Committee; California Medical Association, Committee on CME; Audio-Digest Foundation, Committee on Medical Education; and the Accreditation Council of Continuing Medical Education.
In 2003, Richard once again returned to the mission field. He and Pam served for 23 months as the Area Medical Advisor to the LDS Church in Ukraine and Russia. Following their mission, he found great satisfaction and fulfillment serving a new community, Sacramento/Roseville, CA, as a general physician with The Permanente Medical Group (Kaiser); a perfect fit for him. In April of 2017, ‘Doc’ Ashby retired after almost 50 years of dedicated medical practice.
For 40 years, Pam and Richard raised nine wonderful children, all of whom were married in an LDS Temple and sealed to him and to each other for time and all eternity. Richard instilled in his children a love of Christ, learning, and adventure. A long-time member of the Magic Castle, he entertained and delighted family and friends with slight-of-hand and magic (“How does he do it? Very well, thank you.”), jokes (“Hey doc, it hurts when I do this. . . . Then don’t do that.”), riddles (“… I can’t operate on this boy, he is my son. How is that possible?”), poetry (The Cremation of Sam Magee and The Chambered Nautilus, to name a few), and chess and music of all kinds.
He has left us suddenly; far too soon. While there is no sorry for those who, like Richard, die in the Lord, he is sorely missed by his wife, family, friends, and those who knew and loved him. That number includes anyone who ever met this remarkable man of faith and science. Richard is survived by Pam, nine children, 28 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He will be greatly missed.
Friends are welcome for visitation Friday December 1, 2017, from 4-8PM at PRICE FUNERAL CHAPEL (6335 Sunrise Blvd., Citrus Heights, CA, 916-725-2109) and are invited to attend a celebration of his life Saturday, December 2, 2017, 10AM at THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, Van Maren Ward Chapel (7009 Van Maren Lane, Citrus Heights, CA).
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the UC Davis Medical Center (916) 734-9400 who, by way of a kidney transplant in 2013, in concert with The Permanente Medical Group, added four rewarding years to his life.