NGU News

Former Trustee and Noted Community Leader Russell Ashmore Dies

Posted on: August 22, 2023
By Marty O'Gwynn,

Long-time North Greenville University trustee and benefactor Dr. Russell C. Ashmore, Jr., died August 21 in Taylors. He was 93.

A noted community leader and active Baptist layman, Dr. Ashmore was instrumental in keeping North Greenville College open in 1991, when the South Carolina Baptist Convention-affiliated school nearly closed. As chairman of the board of trustees, he was part of a group of Baptist leaders which guided the junior college to remain operational and pursue four-year status. The institution, which had 325 students at the time, has grown to nearly 2,300 students, with bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs on campuses in Tigerville and Greer. An active NGU supporter, Dr. Ashmore served as a university trustee for 25 years.

“Dr. Ashmore was one of the greatest, most influential board chairs ever to serve the NGU community,” said NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr. “He championed NGU’s shift to four-year status, believing that baccalaureate degrees would serve students more effectively and transform the university’s enrollment.”

“He believed that the university should engage the entire region and was thrilled when the Tim Brashier Campus in Greer opened, serving that business community,” Dr. Fant said. “But more than anything, he was a prayer warrior and encourager who lived out the gospel of Christ with integrity and boldness. He was an inspiration to me in our frequent visits and prayer times together. The world could use more transformational leaders like Russell and Ruth Ashmore.”

A graduate of Greenville High School, Dr. Ashmore completed a bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine from Clemson University in 1950. He entered the U.S. Army in the spring of 1951 as a second lieutenant. While stationed in Germany, he married Ruth Stanton, from Belton, SC, on October 13, 1951.

After completing his military service, Dr. Ashmore returned to Clemson and completed a bachelor’s degree in ceramic engineering in 1955. He worked with General Shale Products Corporation in Tennessee and Kentucky, before returning to the Upstate in 1960 to join the family business, Ashmore Brothers, Inc.

The company celebrated 50 years of operation in 1980, and opened new offices on Highway 14 in Greer. With the move, Dr. Ashmore became an active member of the Greer Chamber of Commerce.

The Ashmores joined Taylors First Baptist Church in 1960, and were engaged in a variety of ministry activities through their church and in medical missions work. They were married for 65 years before Ruth passed away on October 14, 2016, at the age of 86.

For more than 60 years, Dr. Ashmore was an active deacon, Sunday School teacher and committee member at Taylors First Baptist Church. While on a Mobile Medical Missions trip in South America in 2003, he and fellow church member Dr. James Hayes discussed the possibility of forming a medical clinic in their own community. That led to the opening of Taylors Free Medical Clinic on July 28, 2005. The clinic has served more than 5,100 patients since then.

Between 1977 and 2006, Dr. Ashmore served five five-year terms on the North Greenville Board of Trustees. He was board chairman in 1979, 1980, 1991, and 1992. North Greenville presented him the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at Spring Commencement in May 1997.

Dr. Ashmore began his financial investment in North Greenville in the early 1970s, following his father’s active support of the university. He was a founding member of the university’s Christian Ministry Scholarship Fund to support students pursuing full-time ministry roles. He also supported fine arts, global missions, academic facilities, campus housing, and NGU Athletics.

The university’s varsity baseball facilities are located at Ashmore Park, originally named Ashmore Field in 1997 to honor the family’s support for North Greenville’s baseball program. Ashmore Park now encompasses Ray and Bea Dillard Field and George Bomar Family Stadium.

“He was an early supporter of intercollegiate athletics, particularly baseball, and he loved seeing the NCAA national championship in 2022,” said President Fant.

Dr. Ashmore is survived by four children, Russell C. Ashmore III, Dianne Ashmore Stewart, Mark Ashmore, and Gregory Charles Ashmore, Sr.

In recognition of Dr. Ashmore’s life and legacy, President Fant has directed that all NGU flags be flown at half-staff through sundown Friday, August 25, 2023. A commemorative wreath has been placed at the entrance to Ashmore Park on NGU’s Tigerville campus.

Funeral services will be at 11:00 a.m. Friday, August 25, 2023, at Taylors First Baptist Church, conducted by Rev. Josh Powell, Dr. Jimmie Harley, and Rev. Jerry Long. Burial will follow in Woodlawn Memorial Park.

Visitation will be from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. Friday, August 25, 2023, at Taylors First Baptist Church.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Taylors Free Medical Clinic, 400 W. Main Street, Taylors, SC 29687; North Greenville University, 7801 N. Tigerville Road, Tigerville, SC 29688; or Taylors First Baptist Church, 200 W. Main Street, Taylors, SC 29687.

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