Letter to the Editor | A Tribute to Tom Ashby

PHOTO: Bob Weaver | South Pasadenan.com News | Tom Ashby

By Bob Weaver

My friend, Tom, died recently. In processing his loss, I have two very different emotions—deep sadness at the passing of a dear friend, but also profound gratitude at how our friendship has enriched my life.

Initially, it was our daughters who brought us together through AYSO Region 214 soccer. It didn’t take long to find out that we had three loves in common: our families; our community; and the game of soccer. In youth soccer, we both served as coaches (he was much better), referees (I had greater longevity), and Region 214 Commissioners.

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As supporters of South Pasadena High School, we participated in the effort to add varsity soccer to Tiger athletics, anticipating that one day our daughters would compete on Roosevelt Field. We sat together in Ray Solari Stadium cheering on our teenage daughters, kibbitzing the coaching, and critiquing the refereeing. We joined in the community-wide effort to upgrade facilities at SPHS—a new locker room for Tiger girl athletes; a new and safe playing field for Tiger soccer (and football) players.

Tom coached (and I kibbitzed) the Tiger girls’ varsity to five Rio Hondo League titles and one CIF championship, earning him a place in the South Pasadena High School Tiger Athletic Hall of Fame. Later, we continued our support of the girls’ varsity from our perch in the Ray Solari Stadium stands (picture The Muppets’ two old guys in the balcony) and drove from Santa Barbara to Mission Viejo to root on the Tigers in their CIF play-off

We shared LA Galaxy season tickets and attended matches together for decades. And we supported USA teams in 1994 (men) and 1999 (women) in their Rose Bowl matches and celebrated as the USA women defeated China to win their third World Cup.

As downtown professionals (lawyer and banker), we met for lunch more than once a month for over two decades, relishing our fellowship and never at a loss for words in talking about our three common loves. As fathers, we shared houseboating and water skiing with kids on Lake Powell; and later vacationing and tubing with grandkids on Lake Almanor. And we enjoyed wonderful names given us by our grandchildren —Bugga (memorialized on Tom’s personalized license plate) and B-Bob.

As household heads, we had shared experiences and supported each other in dealing with divorce, illness, and other family trials as we moved through middle age and into retiree status.

A favorite memory—being with Tom and Kathleen at the 4th of July pancake breakfast; enjoying South Pasadena’s quintessential small-town event; seeing old friends from AYSO days; and greeting players we had coached so long ago, now with their own families and budding soccer stars.

We were men born in the 1940s, and expressions of affection came hard for us. As retirees, though, aware of where we were in our life journeys, that started to change. First, we started calling each other Tommy and Bobby. More recently, hugs became part of our greeting—sometimes accompanied by a hurried and somewhat awkward “love you, man.”

I am comfortable now in acknowledging my love for my friend Tom. I will miss him as fall brings our community’s children back to South Pasadena’s playing fields; as winter sees our beloved Tiger girls’ varsity return once more to Roosevelt Field; and as 4th of July brings our community back to the Firehouse.

More than that, though, I will always be grateful for his friendship and comforted by memories of all we shared for more than half our lives.