He will be remembered as a true champion for the gopher tortoise.
At 64, Ray Ashton passed away March 11, 2010 of pancreatic tumor complications. Best known as champion of the gopher tortoise, he was a conservationist of the first degree. His boundless enthusiasm guided, prodded, and yes forced us (sometimes almost at gunpoint) down the meandering road to conservation. One of his many accomplishments involves gopher tortoise legislation.
Ray wore many hats: CEO of Ashton Biodiversity Research and Preservation Institute, FFWCC gopher tortoise advisor, author, educator and traveler. His path led from Miami University, through museums and universities, to “retirement” (if that word can be applied to Ray) at the institute.
Kraig Adler put it best, “He was tenacious about things he cared about, like tortoises, and got things done against high odds by determination and sheer guts.” Ray and I spoke several times over the last week or so ago, and he was of good spirits, never letting on how serious his illness had become.
He unfortunately did not have health insurance. Everything he and his wife Pat had went into their work. Prior to his death, many thousands of dollars of medical costs had already been incurred. They weren’t rich people, except perhaps in friends. An account had been set up for donations to support Ray's medical expenses. If you can afford to contribute, please do so at: The Ashton Fund, SunTrust Bank, Attention Brian Drumgool, Mail Code FL-Jonesville-0816, 14220 W. Newberry Road, Jonesville, FL 32669.