Passed December 8th, 2017, at Brandon Woods
Born Virginia Jane Harris, to Abram Winegardner Harris III and Lucille Clark Harris in Southwest Harbor, Maine, Jinny grew up in Marathon House, near Bar Harbor Maine on Mt. Desert Island. She was pre-deceased by her husband, Peter Dunning Ashlock, brothers and sisters Steven Hamlin, Robert Hamlin, Abram (Beany) Harris, and Shayla Harris Weeks. She is survived by two sons, Daniel Abram Ashlock of Guelph, Ontario, Canada and Joseph Warren Ashlock of Naperville, Illinois, a daughter-in-law, Wendy Cole Ashlock (Guelph, Ontario, Canada), three grand children Charlotte Rachel Ashlock (Oakland, California), Peter Cole Ashlock (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), and Richard Isaac Ashlock (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), and her co-grandmother, Marjorie Cole of Lawrence.
As a teenager, Jinny moved to Greensboro, North Carolina. She attended the North Carolina Women’s College, majoring in Art and English. She was a talented sketch artist and maintained a lifelong interest in literature. She loved historical novels, fantasy, and mystery stories. At the time of her passing, her library included more than two thousand volumes ranging from the Oxford History of the World to J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
Jinny met her husband Peter while working on a Master’s degree in English at the University of Connecticut where Peter was working on a Masters degree in entomology. Jinny’s Master’s topic was the connection between Tolkien’s Middle Earth (the Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, the Silmarillion) and Icelandic Myth. Jinny was an admirer of Tolkien and maps of Middle Earth as well as character studies of Tolkien’s places and characters adorned her home.
After marriage, Jinny lived in Berkeley, California where her husband earned a Ph.D. in Systematics. She worked as an editor at the California University Press and had her first child, Daniel. After Berkeley, Jinny lived for a time on the Hawaiian island of Oahu while her husband was a curator of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. Her second child, Joseph, was born there. After a brief stay in Storrs, Connecticut, where her husband held a temporary faculty position, she moved to Lawrence, Kansas where her husband had a permanent faculty position at KU.
In Lawrence Jinny volunteered in the Lawrence school system and served as President of the League of Women Voters. She worked as an editor at the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology at the University of Kansas. She was certified as a Master Gardener by the Douglas County extension. Jinny’s last position was editing and organizing the papers of Professor James Mitchner, a noted expert on bees at KU. Jinny was active, through the League of Women Voters, in local and state politics. She was someone who made sure things got done and finished on time.
Jinny’s sons grew up in Lawrence, attending Lawrence High and the University of Kansas. She lived for many years in Old West Lawrence at 800 Indiana Street. Her house was a block from Joe’s Donuts and she often dispatched her sons to retrieve freshly prepared glazed doughnuts. She transformed the yard at 800 Indiana from something of a jungle to a beautiful garden full of flowers and trees. Her favorite restaurant was the Chinese restaurant at the Virginia Inn.
Jinny had planned to retire to Inverness, California, to a house she helped construct while living in Berkeley, but after the passing of her husband, Peter, in 1989, she decided to remain in Lawrence where she had many friends. The house is set in a bay tree forest above a small lake adjacent to the Golden Gate National Seashore. Once, upon opening a jar of bay leaves, Jinny exclaimed, “It smells like Inverness!”
Jinny moved from the Indiana Street house to Brandon Woods in 2015 along with her many books. Her major pastime there was reading her library, particularly collections of poetry, the works of Rudyard Kipling, Patrick O’Brien’s historical novels, Shakespeare’s history plays, Trollope, the science fiction and fantasy of Lois McMaster Bujold, the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Harry Potter series. At the end of her life, she entertained herself and visitors by reciting the many poems she had stored in her memory over her lifetime. She passed in her sleep on the afternoon of December 8th, peacefully and in the company of family.
In lieu of flowers, please send memorial donations to the League of Women Voters of Lawrence/Douglass County c/o the Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home. A service will be held in Inverness California in 2018. Please contact Daniel Ashlock (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like details about the service.
Elegy,from Jinny’s granddaughter, Charlotte:
You never really know someone
until you meet their family.
A tender eye may trace between
those who share a blood,
those sweet and hidden lines of harmony or pain–
Understand the child’s laugh the better
for seeing it on the parents face.
Although apart, we walk in step
our hearts beating a music that distance dims
but rarely breaks.
I salute the ones who have gone before,
both named and nameless, knowing:
I hold a part of you inside of me,
your wit on my lips,
your stubbornness in my grip,
your courage in loneliness, that is with me also.
Rest in peace, though I cannot–
may the elves welcome you in the West.