In honor of their father, the late Congressman Thomas Ludlow Ashley, Meredith and Mark Ashley created the Thomas Ludlow Ashley Endowed Scholarship at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University. The scholarship will be awarded on a competitive basis and selected by a committee of faculty and staff of the School. Recipients will be recognized as the Thomas Ludlow Ashley Scholars during their time at the Bush School.
Representative Ashley served in Congress from 1954 until his retirement in 1980, representing the 9th Congressional District in Ohio, which included his hometown of Toledo. A staunch liberal and a fierce advocate for landmark anti-poverty and housing legislation, Ashley was known as a thoughtful and skilled legislator who could create bipartisan agreement on difficult issues. He was called “Mr. Housing” by his Congressional colleagues and worked diligently to create public housing programs in the 1960’s and 1970’s, in particular the Housing and Community Development Acts of 1974 and 1977.
Ashley was known universally as “Lud,” and was a long-time friend of President George H.W. Bush. They became best friends at Yale after World War II and maintained a close friendship until Ashley’s death in 2010. Congressman Ashley was a member of the George Bush Foundation Board of Directors and never missed a meeting, despite the difficulty of getting to College Station from Michigan. “I think he thought of himself in some way as an alumnus of the Bush School,” said Meredith Ashley. “He certainly was passionate about the School, and our family recognized that this kind of continuing contribution to the students would have pleased him.”
Ashley’s sons, Mark and Meredith, said they want the students who receive this scholarship to “understand and value the deep respect that existed between our father and the President,” and to know how that respect enabled two leaders of their respective parties to focus on their commonalities as opposed to their differences as they worked to serve the nation.
President Bush recalled his friend as a dedicated and principled public servant. “Lud Ashley embodied the ethic of public service as a noble cause,” he said. “I’m thrilled that his name will now be associated with the Bush School, and that this generous donation will help us educate future principled leaders. I’m also very grateful to Mark and Meredith for honoring their dad in this way. He was so proud of them both.”
Former Bush School acting dean and long-time friend of President George H.W. Bush, Andrew Card, said he felt privileged to witness the close relationship between the President and Congressman Ashley.
“These two gentlemen—and I would use that word in its fullest sense—were loyal friends, dating from the time they both served in Congress,” said Card. “That friendship endured over the years, but neither gave up his partisanship. They understood the need, so often lost today, to both earn and give respect to others, despite partisan differences. President Bush always looked forward to seeing Lud, not only as a friend and former colleague, but as a source of comfort. Lud Ashley was a remarkable man, and a dedicated public servant,” Card said, “I’m sure President Bush is very pleased that Congressman Ashley’s name will now be forever associated with the Bush School.”