College of Charleston SCHOOL OF THE ARTS

Beloved Professor Will Be Missed By Many

Dr. Douglas Ashley


Please join us for a memorial service honoring the life of Dr. Douglas Daniels Ashley, who passed away on June 5, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Ashley moved to Charleston and began teaching at the College of Charleston in 1972.

Beloved by his community and admired for his artistic talent as a pianist, Dr. Ashley performed annual recitals on the College of Charleston campus for members of the community, as well as students and colleagues alike. It is with that spirit, we wish to honor his time spent in Charleston and the lives he impacted. Read more about Dr. Ashley and tributes from his students in the original announcement below.

The memorial service will take place on Saturday, September 14, 2013, at 11 a.m., in the Recital Hall of the Simons Center for the Arts, 54 Saint Philip Street, Charleston, SC 29401 (directions and parking). A reception will follow at The Alley, 131 Columbus Street.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Dr. Douglas Ashley Scholarship Fund at the College of Charleston Foundation, 66 George Street, Charleston, SC 29424. Online gifts can be made by clicking here, and adding Dr. Ashley’s name in the Tribute section at the bottom.


The School of the Arts lost one of its most popular faculty members when Dr. Douglas Daniels Ashley passed away on June 5, 2013, at Peace Haven Christian Science Nursing Facility in St. Louis, Missouri.

Dr. Ashley grew up in Kansas City and began studying the piano at the age of seven. He earned his undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees at Northwestern University, where he graduated with honors. Dr. Ashley also earned a piano diploma from the Conservatory of Vienna, and his study with Maria Curcio was the inspiration for his book Music Beyond Sound. Maria Curcio, a Teacher of Great Pianists.

Dr. Ashley became a member of the College of Charleston faculty in 1972, seventeen years before the College created the School of the Arts. When he retired at the end of the spring 2013 semester, Dr. Ashley was admired by generations of students who had studied the piano and enrolled in courses such as Music Appreciation under his tutelage.

Dr. Ashley was dedicated to the professional and personal maturity of his students, and he made himself available to students in order to foster the best possible college experience for them. He began serving as the faculty advisor for the Beta Gamma Chapter of Kappa Alpha Order in 1986 and was involved in many campus activities and organizations in his constant efforts to improve and enhance the College and the School of the Arts.

During his time as a member of the faculty, Dr. Ashley maintained an active teaching and performing career in the United States and abroad. He performed in such venues as Carnegie Recital Hall, Wigmore Hall in London, the Chopin Academy in Warsaw, Beckstein Hall in Berlin, and the Academy of Music in Prague. Among his other professional accomplishments, he had been a juror for piano and chamber music at the international Brahms competition in Poertschach, Austria, for many years.

We will miss Dr. Ashley when the new academic year begins, but plans are under way for a memorial service during the fall 2013 semester. Details will be available by the time classes begin in late August. Those who wish to memorialize Dr. Ashley may send gifts to the Dr. Douglas Ashley Scholarship Fund at the College of Charleston Foundation, 66 George Street, Charleston, SC 29424. Online gifts can be made by clicking here, and adding Dr. Ashley’s name in the Tribute section at the bottom.


I became the accomplished musician that I am today because Dr. Douglas D. Ashley was practicing the piano.  
In the Fall of 1977, I was a freshman at the College of Charleston with the intention of studying biology. I had already taken piano lessons from the time I was six years old and had no intention of taking any more. I was finished with music. However, the hand of divine providence decided otherwise. One day I was walking to the student center to pick up my mail. Dr. Ashley was practicing the piano in his studio. I could hear his extraordinary playing literally right through the wall of the old fine arts building. I was so enthralled that I just had to step inside to listen to more of this beautiful sound! I sat down on the staircase thinking I would spend a few moments there. Suddenly, Dr. Ashley’s door popped open and he said, “Hello! I’m so glad to see you! You’ve come for your audition, haven’t you? Well, let’s get started.” I was totally surprised! I blindly followed him into his studio. He handed me a piece by Mozart and said, “OK, play this for me.” Still dumbfounded, I did exactly as he instructed. He listened, gave his approval and then he placed my name on his teaching schedule.
From that point on, Dr. Ashley was my piano professor and trusted advisor. I became a fine arts major. As time passed, he became a cherished friend. We became such good friends that he eventually met all my “trailer” mates – fellow roommates who lived in the rows of single-wide mobile homes tucked inside the College Inn Dorm on Calhoun Street. He joined us for meals and became a fixture in all our lives. Dr. Ashley was truly interested in each one of us. He was no fake –he was the genuine article. I am sure I speak for hundreds (and perhaps thousands) of students in confirming his unwavering dedication to music, the college life and to every student on campus. 
In March 1981, under Dr. Ashley’s watchful eye, I performed a senior recital at the Simons Center for the Arts including works by J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy. I earned a BA in Fine Arts and graduated the following May. I think back on that autumn day in 1977 as a distinct and defining moment in my life. I was favored with the sounds of an extremely talented musician, who then became a faithful teacher and life-long friend. 
And all because Dr. Ashley was practicing when I happened to walk by.
Ruth Wiggins Reames
College of Charleston, Class of 1981
BA in Fine Arts, Piano
Soli Deo Gloria

I’ve sat at my computer typing, deleting, typing, deleting, nothing seems suffice. How could any of these tiny little words and lines sum up a life 75 years strong? Two years ago, I called the College of Charleston inquiring about acquiring a piano professor, unknowingly, as i signed up for his course, I had signed up for one of the greatest friendships of my life. Almost immediately he surpassed any expectation placed upon him as an educator. And in the same breath that improved my Mozart, he also managed to comfort, guide, and push me forward into a better life. This man sacrificed, worked, and toiled for the students of this school. For 40 years, this man has given his life to others, and the lives that were touched by him, surely won’t be forgetting him anytime soon. To forget him would be to forget a part of ourselves. I won’t be forgetting you. A thousand “thank yous” would never be enough. But here’s my one. Thank you, Douglas Ashley. You will be missed.

-Corey Campbell
Dr. Ashley was an exceptional professor in the classroom and an inspirational pianist to music students at the College of Charleston. He shared his vast knowledge of music as well as personal anecdotes regarding travels, performances and interactions with other musicians filling a classroom with his charisma and spirit. Dr. Ashley’s ambition, hard work and support for the School of the Arts is truly recognizable in his engagement and praise for many organizations, such as the Charleston Music Fest.
-Zoe Whittaker
Dr. Ashley has always been an incredible mentor, teacher and friend.  Whether being told in or outside of the classroom, Doc’s stories about his past experiences always struck a remarkable chord and I couldn’t help after hearing them, recognizing that the world was far more interesting than I had originally understood.
-Ellis Roberts ’01