Robert Paul Ashley, Jr. ’36

Robert Paul Ashley, Jr. ’36 died on November 22, 2006, in Ripon, Wisconsin.

Born on April 15, 1915, in Baltimore, MD, he prepared for college at Newton High School in Massachusetts and joined Zeta Psi Fraternity at Bowdoin. Following his graduation cum laude and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 1936, he received a master of arts degree from Harvard University in 1936 and a doctor of philosophy degree there in 1949. He taught English at Portland Junior College and at Colby Junior College before World War II, in which he served as a lieutenant junior grade in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946. After teaching at Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania from 1948 to 1951, he taught for four years at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY. In 1955, he joined the faculty at Ripon College in Wisconsin, where he was dean of the college for 20 years, until 1975. From 1974 to 1978, he was the William Harley Barber Distinguished Professor of English Literature at Ripon. He retired in 1982. An authority on the English Victorian novel, he published an anthology of Elizabethan fiction and a biography of Wilkie Collins. He lectured throughout Wisconsin on the history of the mystery novel. He co-authored a history of Ripon College and a book on the Bible as literature. He was also a scholar of the American Civil War, and contributed numerous articles to Civil War journals, edited an anthology of Civil War poetry, and wrote two adventure novels on the Civil War for teenagers. In 1966, he was for some months the acting president of Ripon College, and for some years he was Ripon’s tennis coach. In 1985, he received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Ripon. He was married in 1939 to Virginia Woods, who died in 1981, and is survived by four daughters,V. June Hager of Washington, DC, Diane W. Ashley of Eastham, MA, Cynthia Ashley of Oakland, CA, and Jacquelyn S. Ashley of Jamestown, CO; a son, Robert P. Ashley III of Madison, WI; six grandchildren; and three great- grandchildren.