J. Gavin Asher, 92 of Mexico, died at 11:40 p.m., Wednesday, April 10, 2013, at Monroe Manor in Paris.
Private family services will be held at a later date in Rural Dale Cemetery, Dunlap, Missouri. Burial will be on the Asher family plot alongside three previous generations of the Asher family including his Great-Grandfather Solomon Asher who came to Grundy County Missouri in 1868 from Ohio. Pickering Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Gavin was born February 6, 1921, on the old Asher farm near Dunlap, Missouri, to John and Hazel (Wathen) Asher. He graduated from Trenton High School May 16, 1940, and worked for various farmers in Missouri and Kansas. He volunteered for military service after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, enlisting February 16, 1942. After training, he was sent overseas with the US Army 9th Air Force Middle East where he served as engineer and gunner on a Liberator bomber. In eleven months, Asher saw three hundred two hours of combat time during thirty-two bombing missions, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for “gallantry and achievements in action.” Asher was the first Trenton boy to receive the Outstanding Aerial Achievements Air Medal for his first one hundred hours of combat time. Other military awards include the European African Middle Eastern Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster for over three hundred hours of air combat.
Asher’s stateside duty assignments included Utah, Idaho, California, and Washington, as instructor; followed by honorable discharge on September 12, 1945. Upon his return to Trenton, Missouri, he worked for various farmers, carpenters, and a lumberyard in the Trenton area and in Ohio. With a family of four and a lack of meaningful employment, he enlisted in the Air Force Reserves and was called to active duty January 1951. His first duty was in southern Japan flying into Korea on the crew of C-119 cargo planes. Along with stateside duty in Illinois, Texas, and Hawaii, he served in French Morocco, Thailand, and Vietnam, finishing his service career at Dow Air Base in Bangor, Maine, with honorable discharge on May 31, 1968. Through his military service, this “Trenton farm boy saw the world.”
The American Red Cross offered him employment following his military service with assignments in New Jersey, Vietnam, and Virginia; until his “retirement” in northern Missouri in 1970. June 1971, he married Stelona Shew-Wampler; together they resided in Brookfield, Boonville, Moberly and Mexico, until her admittance at Monroe Manor in Paris. In these communities Asher enjoyed various odd jobs, his huge garden for a local farmer’s market, “Gavin’s Goodies” food trailer for area auctions, and volunteering with civic organizations.
Asher is a life-time member of the Air Force Sergeant’s Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars Gold Circle Member, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans Bronze Leader, Lions Club International, and Masonic Lodge and has held various leadership positions in some of the local organizations along with leadership in Toastmasters International, and as Linn County Civil Defense Director. While president of the Pershing Park Association, the Wall of Honor at the John J. Pershing Memorial, Laclede, Missouri, was erected. Asher is licensed to preach by the Southern Baptist Church and has held revival meetings, pulpit supply, and conducted funeral services.
Page 2 of 2 - Asher is survived by his wife Stelona; children from his first marriage: son, Gavin Lee Asher of Ottumwa, IA; daughters Charlotte Ann Caves of Oskaloosa, IA, Janice Elaine Burman of LaSalle, IL, and Connie Marie Slechta of Ottumwa, IA.; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his son Elliott Lynn Asher in 1975; his parents in 1977; and his siblings: Francis Asher Adams, Solomon Earl Asher, Charles Edwin Asher, and Olive Asher Post.
In lieu of flowers, Asher requested that memorials be directed to American Cancer Society.
Expressions of sympathy may be given at www.pickeringfh.com.