Obituary, Henry Ray Ashbrook

Henry Ray Ashbrook, age 95 years, 8 months and 17 days, passed away Thursday, April 30, 2020, at his home in Stearns.

Funeral Services were held Saturday, May 2, 2020 at 2:00pm in the chapel of the Hickman-Strunk Funeral Home with Bro. Eddie King officiating. Burial was in the Silerville Cemetery in Strunk, Kentucky.

Born in Russell Springs, Ky., on August 13, 1924, to Adonis Ashbrook, and Rosa (Chumley) Ashbrook, Henry was a member of the greatest generation, living through the great depression and helping to win WWII by his meritorious service In the US Navy. He proudly served in the Pacific, aboard the USS Franklin, the most decorated ship in history. Nicknamed Big Ben, the ship was one of 24 Essex Class Carriers built during WWII.

In March of 1945, while off the Japanese mainland, the Franklin was struck by two 500 pound bombs that hit the flight deck and penetrated the hangar deck. Six months earlier, the ship had been hit by a kamikaze plane, killing or wounding 120 crew members. The second attack on the ship ignited 31 fueled aircraft as well as most of the ordinance on board. Henry, who was an aviation ordinance man 3rd class, was below when the ship was struck. More than 800 men lost their lives. Survivors who managed to reach the flight deck had to climb hand over hand on a rope across raging waters to a rescue ship. Both the U.S.S. Franklin and Henry would survive. Henry received numerous medals and commendations for his bravery and service.

Henry returned after the war and took a job in the chemical department of the Formica Company in Cincinnati, Ohio. He resided in Cincinnati and Sunbright, Tennessee, and was married to Ruby Edna Burchell for 42 years until she passed in 1991. Time and circumstance would bring him to Stearns, Kentucky, where he met and married Fay Anderson and they began their lives together. Henry enjoyed trading, flea marketing, fishing, reading his Bible, and attending family gatherings. He was a member of First Hickory Grove Baptist Church, a member of the Kinne- Slaven Post of the American Legion, in Stearns, and Wartburg Masonic Lodge, in Wartburg, Tn., for over 50 years, and was a Kentucky Colonel.

In addition to his parents, Henry is preceded in death by his wives Edna and Fay Ashbrook, son, Ray Ashbrook, step-son John, Blair, step-daughters Melissa Parr, Penny Hinchey, and Marcia Welter, two brothers, Lindell and Adrian Ashbrook, and two sisters, Adelyne Smith and Selma Stamer.

He is survived by two sons, Tom and Robert Ashbrook, step-son Joseph Anderson and Diane, step-son inlaw Steve Parr, step-daughters, Karen and Joe Clancy, Susan and Brad Hill, and Brenda and Wayne Hall, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

To know Henry was simply to love him. Henry loved the Lord, his church, and his family. He led an extraordinary life, and his testimony, faith, and memories are what we will remember of Henry.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Henry’s name to the following organizations:
First Hickory Grove Baptist Church
Stearns, KY 42647

Kinne- Slaven Post of the American Legion
1 Veterans Drive
Stearns, KY 42647

Hickman-Strunk Funeral Home was honored to serve the family of Mr. Henry Ashbrook.

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