Obituary of Dennis Jack Ashworth
Dennis Jack Ashworth died of a heart attack on November 20, 2018 at the Landmark Care Center in Yakima where he was undergoing rehabilitation for chronic conditions including lymphedema. He is succeeded by his wife, Kathleen Ashworth and two children, Matthew Ashworth and Maegan Dirac.
Born November 27, 1945 in Detroit, Michigan to Jack Ashworth and Hilda Burrows, Dennis was an attorney, an instructor, a chef, an avid reader, a passionate fan of music and the arts, and a master conversationalist who both fed off of and inspired others through spirited discourse. His love of cooking and cuisine mirrored his passion for exploring other cultures. Family members fondly remember both the classic American and foreign dishes he would lovingly prepare and serve for anyone willing to strike up a conversation.
One of Dennis’s fondest memories was attending the Boy Scouts of America’s 50th Jamboree in 1960. He became an Eagle Scout at the age of 16.
After graduating from Lincoln Park High School in 1963, Dennis attended Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan where he received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a focus on labor relations. Just prior to graduating and receiving his degree in August of 1968, Dennis married his high school sweetheart Kathleen Toohey on June 14 of that same year. At graduation, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant after participating in ROTC throughout his undergraduate experience.
The next destination in Dennis’s educational journey was the Detroit College of Law. Upon graduation in June of 1971, Dennis spent three months training for active duty in the army reserves. Soon afterwards, he began practicing law in the Detroit area. Dennis participated in the reserves for nearly a decade, earning a promotion to first lieutenant.
Dennis and Kathy welcomed son Matthew Ian Ashworth on October 22, 1973 and daughter Maegan Marie Ashworth on May 16, 1978.
After moving north from Detroit to Cadillac, Michigan, Dennis was a shareholder, business manager and attorney for the Michigan Northern Railway he co-founded from 1976 through 1979. During this time period he expressed his love for the arts through his role on the Cadillac Arts Society. Beginning in about 1980, the family began what would become Dennis’s favorite family tradition: a yearly Christmas Eve open house that saw friends from church, school and work stop by to eat and drink in both Dennis’s egg nog and abounding holiday cheer.
The Ashworth family relocated to Yakima, Washington in 1983 following an epic cross-country trip that saw Dennis, Matthew and Maegan traverse the U.S. by car followed by a semi-truck full of their belongings.
A proud father who considered his children his two biggest accomplishments, Dennis also made a big impact on his friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Between 1988 and 2000 he taught Business Law at Yakima Valley College and then served as the university’s evening administrator. Dennis also maintained a law practice in Yakima for more than 20 years, focusing on bankruptcy and probate cases.
For more than a decade, Dennis volunteered his time as an active board member and supporter of the Warehouse Theater.
In addition to Kathleen, Matthew (and wife Sybil Ashworth) and Maegan (and husband Leo Dirac), Dennis leaves behind loving family including mother-in-law Margaret Toohey of Yakima, Washington; aunt June Farmer and numerous cousins in Brisbane, Australia; brother Douglas Ashworth and husband James Young of Cadillac, Michigan; brother-in-law Jim Toohey of Burien, Washington; grandchildren Iris Lynn Ashworth, Eloise Pearl Ashworth, Petra Evelyn Dirac and Pascale Deming Dirac of Seattle, Washington; aunt Peggy Budden of Livonia, Michigan; cousin Randal Budden, wife Jennifer Budden and their daughter Amelia Budden of Washington D.C.; and cousin Laquita Iler and her daughter Sarah Iler, also of Livonia, Michigan.
Preceding Dennis in death are his parents Jack and Hilda Ashworth; father-in-law Raymond Toohey; and sister Lesley Ashworth.
A funeral service and interment of ashes is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, December 15 at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, 4105 Richey Rd. in Yakima. Their phone number is (509) 966-7370.