Kurt's Historic Sites

James M. Ashley and Thomas L. Ashley

Thomas W. Ludlow Ashley

Interment Location Visited  
Toledo, OH April 12, 2023  

Photographed April 12, 2023.

A 13-term congressman, Thomas William Ludlow “Lud” Ashley represented Ohio’s 9th district from 1955 to 1981. Upon his death in 2010, he was buried in Toledo with members of his family such as his great-grandfather, James M. Ashley, who was one of the leaders behind the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in the House of Representatives. Just as his ancestor was an advocate for equality and justice, Lud Ashley worked on policies to justly address the issues of the mid-twentieth century, such as civil rights, better housing, and poverty reduction. Speaker Tip O’Neill selected Ashley as chairperson of the ad hoc House Energy Committee in 1977 because he had “no reputation as a parochial energy fighter.” When Ashley helped steer a package of oil consumption reduction energy bills through the House the following year, the speaker praised him for possessing “knowledge, ability, toughness, and a never-say-die attitude[.]”

Ashley, a liberal Democrat, had a notable close friend across the political aisle: George H.W. Bush was a classmate of his at Yale University and a fellow member of the Skull and Bones secret student society. Another of Ashley’s Republican pals was Gerald Ford.

Photographed April 12, 2023.
Photographed April 12, 2023.

Apart from the familiar nickname of “Lud,” the congressman had the moniker “Mr. Housing” on Capitol Hill. Ashley was a crucial figure in the passage of legislation that provided entitlement communities grants for low-income and medium-income housing — namely the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, which was supplemented in 1977. Senator Ted Kennedy once confidently declared, “Americans sleep in better homes today because of Lud Ashley.” His efforts in Congress reared significant benefits for his district, such as the $15 million Lucas County received for public housing units. He also secured an $11 million grant for Toledo to improve its port, which became one of the leading ports in the country. Nevertheless, the Toledoan was defeated for re-election in 1980 by Republican state legislator Ed Weber. A wave of conservatism carried a slew of liberals out of office that cycle, including Representative Ashley, President Jimmy Carter, House Majority Whip John Brademas, and senators Birch Bayh and George McGovern.

Fast Facts

Born: January 11, 1923 in Toledo, Ohio

Spouses: Margaret Mary Sherman Ashley (m. 1956-1965); Kathleen Lucey Ashley (m. 1967-1997)

Military Rank: Corporal — U.S. Army

Political Affiliation: Democratic Party

House Tenure: 1955-1981

Died: June 15, 2010 in Leland, Michigan

Cause of Death: Melanoma

Age: 87

Interment: Woodlawn Cemetery, Toledo, Ohio

"That district is a part of me. It is responsible for the perspective I bring with me. But my view is that my district elected me to represent, when called upon, a larger national interest."
- Thomas W. Ludlow Ashley
1977, to the New York Times

Sources Consulted and Further Reading

Anderson, Jack and Les Whitten. “Tip O’Neill: DC’s 2nd Most Powerful Man.” [Ogdensburg, New York] Journal. May 25, 1977. Page 4. https://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/?a=d&d=jou19770525-01.1.4&e=——-en-20–1–txt-txIN———-.

C-SPAN. “A Look at the Next President: Bush.” C-SPAN video, 32:33. September 16, 1988. https://www.c-span.org/video/?4692-1/president-bush.

Todorov, Kerana and Jeannine Anderson. “Former Wife of Ex-Congressman Homeless in Rockville.” Capital News Service. March 26, 1997. https://cnsmaryland.org/1997/03/26/former-wife-of-ex-congressman-homeless-in-rockville/.

U.S. Government Publishing Office. “MOMENT OF SILENCE IN MEMORY OF FORMER REPRESENTATIVE THOMAS LUDLOW ASHLEY.” Congressional Record (Bound Edition) 156, part 8. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CRECB-2010-pt8/html/CRECB-2010-pt8-Pg11403-6.htm.

Washington Post. “ELECTION 80/THE MIDWEST.” November 5, 1980. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1980/11/05/election-80the-midwest/620206b4-1320-471d-bc50-54453e9e6766/.

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