Dr. Berkley Edgerton Ashby, the husband of Maxine Dixon Ashby and a longtime Eastern Shore educator and school administrator, died Nov. 5 after a brief illness. He was 82 and lived near Belle Haven.
Ashby served for many years as assistant superintendent of Northampton County Public Schools, where he was known for his diplomatic manner and supportive personality. Among the duties he enjoyed was recruiting educators —natives and newcomers alike —to teach in Northampton County.
Born on Aug. 4, 1939, in the family farmhouse near Belle Haven, Ashby experienced a childhood rare to contemporary times. The son of a farmer, he worked in vegetable fields and tended to livestock as a child, fondly recalled when the family bought its first tractor, and had a role in helping raise his three younger siblings.
Ashby worked hard for his education, and continually encouraged others to do the same. When he graduated from Painter’s Central High School in 1957, there was no money for college, so he earned it himself —he worked for four years while living at home, saving money for his undergraduate tuition.
Ashby earned an associate’s degree from Goldey-Beacom College, a bachelor’s degree from East Carolina University, a master’s degree from Old Dominion University, and a Ph.D. from Old Dominion in educational administration and supervision.
He spent 55 years as an educator, administrator and college professor. He was a teacher and guidance counselor at Northampton High School, served as principal of Cape Charles Combined Schools and then was assistant superintendent of Northampton schools until his retirement in 2004.
Ashby was equally comfortable working with preschoolers or graduate students. He served as an adjunct education professor for Old Dominion University and Salisbury University. Late in his career, he was Director of Faculty Support and Dean of Students at Broadwater Academy, where he enjoyed working with students and teachers.
Along the way, Ashby became known for his pragmatic approach, friendly manner, humble demeanor and constant encouragement. He was relentlessly optimistic. He was never happier than when other people found success through their own hard work.
In 1995 he and his wife returned to his homeplace, building a house in a field in which he had worked as a child, across the street from the home in which he was born. There he continued his love of botany and gardening, and enjoyed painting in oils and watercolors.
Ashby recently had rejoined Craddockville United Methodist Church —the church in which he was raised —after a longstanding membership at Epworth United Methodist Church in Exmore. At one time or another, he held every church position in the congregation, including lay leader.
Ashby was a former member of the Exmore Town Council and former president of Shore Little League.
In addition to his wife, Ashby is survived by two children, Bryan Dixon Ashby and his wife, Leisl, of Hebron, Md., and Amy Ashby Shockey and her husband, Ted, of Belle Haven.
Ashby was proud of his four grandchildren, Dora and Grace Ashby of Hebron, and McKay and Jimmy Shockley of Belle Haven.
He also is survived by two brothers, Sturgis Ashby and his wife, Linda, of Exmore, and Cecil Ashby and his wife, Brenda, of Belle Haven, and a number of nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his parents, Samuel Berkley Ashby and Mabel Sturgis Ashby, and a sister, Martha Sue Ashby.
A graveside service will be held at Tuesday, November 9, 2021, at 11 a.m. at Belle Haven Cemetery with the Rev. Bob Talbott officiating. Memorial contributions can be made to Craddockville United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 154, Belle Haven, VA 23306, or the Eastern Shore Community College Foundation, in Ashby’s memory, 29316 Lankford Highway, Melfa, VA 23410.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.doughtyfuneralhome.com
Arrangements were made by Doughty Funeral Home in Exmore, Virginia.