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Richard Orran Ashby MD

July 24, 1936 ~ November 19, 2017

Richard Orran Ashby was born in Salt Lake City, UT in 1936. The oldest of four children born to Orran and Stella Gardner Ashby, was raised in Delta, UT and Phoenix, AZ. He is survived by his brother Larry and his sister Margaret (Worth), and preceded in death by his brother Kenneth.

At 19, Richard served a 30-month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the France/Switzerland Mission. The experience began a lifetime of Christian discipleship, sparked a zest for world travel, and imbued him with a love of his fellowman. Richard was a true renaissance man, with a keen mind, an unquenchable curiosity, and an insatiable thirst for learning, exceeding his mother’s advice to “know something about everything and everything about something.” Richard attended CalTech then earned a BA from UCLA (1961) and a Doctor of Medicine from USC (1965).

In 1960, he married Lillian Toft, a charismatic immigrant from Denmark. Together they settled on thirteen acres in Ojai, California, on what affectionately became known to the family as “Hilltop.” After his residency in Ventura, CA, he established a private practice (1968). Richard and Lilli raised five children, Lisa Olander, Michelle (Christopher) Yost, Erik (Fawn) Ashby, Kirsten (Carl)Shafer, and Heather “Mia” (Mark)Johnston, and fostered three Native American children (Marilyn, Rosemary, and Monica).

In 1976, after what appeared to be a remission of breast cancer, Richard and Lilli took their five young children, ages 5 to 13, on Richard’s second mission for the LDS Church, this time as a medical doctor in the town of Apia, Western Samoa. While there, Lilli did not survive her final battle against cancer and was buried in Apia.

When Richard returned to Ventura, he sought to find a way forward. The way forward came in the form of a miracle, Pam Wheeler Stepheson (who had lost her husband to leukemia) and her son, Jeff (Emily) Stepheson. Together Richard and Pam added three more children, Nathan (Susanne) Ashby, Trevor (Kiwi) Ashby, and Elizabeth (Brian) Starr. With his beloved Pam, they made this family of his, hers, and theirs, “ours.”

During his time in Ventura County, Richard served as an LDS Bishop, Director of the Ambulatory Care Department, Physician Coordinator, Director of Physician Services, and Medical Director at the Ventura County Medical Center. For 40 years, Pam and Richard raised nine wonderful children, all of whom were married in an LDS Temple and sealed to him and each other for time and all eternity. Richard instilled in his children a love of Christ, learning, and adventure. He entertained them with magic (“How does he do it? Very well, thank you.”) and jokes (“Hey doc, it hurts when I do this. . . . Then don’t do that.”), riddles (“… I can’t operate on this boy, he is my son. How is that possible?”) and poetry (The Cremation of Sam Magee and The Chambered Nautilus, to name a few), chess and music of all kinds.

In 2003, Richard once again returned to the mission field. He and Pam served for 23 months as the Area Medical Advisor to the LDS Church in Ukraine and Russia. Following their mission, Richard served a new community, Sacramento, CA, as a general physician with The Permanente Medical Group (Kaiser). In April of 2017, ‘Doc’ Ashby retired after almost 50 years of dedicated medical practice.

He has left us suddenly; much too soon. While there is no sorry for those who, like Richard, die in the Lord, he is sorely missed by his wife, family, friends, and those who knew and loved him; that number includes anyone who ever met this remarkable man of faith and science. Richard is survived by Pam, nine children, 28 grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. He will be missed.

Friends are welcome for visitation Friday December 1, 2017, from 4-8PM at PRICE FUNERAL CHAPEL (6335 Sunrise Blvd., Citrus Heights, CA, 916-725-2109) and are invited to attend a celebration of his life Saturday, December 2, 2017, 10 a.m. at THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, Van Maren Ward Chapel (7009 Van Maren Lane, Citrus Heights, CA) In lieu of flowers, we are requesting donations go to the UC Davis Medical Center (916) 734-9400 who gave Richard his life back for 4 more years..