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Dr. Franklin B. Ashley
  • Memorial contributions may be made to:
  • The Franklin B. Ashley Playwriting Award, Dept. of Theatre, Code E518, College of Charleston
    66 George Street
    Charleston, SC 29424

Pause Prelude in C by Patrick Smith, composer (BMI)
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“Dottie,We miss Franklin so much already, but we are thankful for having known this extraordinary man.Love,Billy Want and Sharon Bennett ”
1 of 8 | Posted by: Billy Want - charleston, SC

“To: Dottie, Susan & family:Just wanted to say how sorry I am to hear about the lost of Franklin Ashley, Dottie, I know this is a hard time for your...Read More »
2 of 8 | Posted by: Don Jordan - Columbia, SC

“Franklin Ashley was like a father figure to me! He encouraged my writing just like my own father did. Even though I was a nontraditional college...Read More »
3 of 8 | Posted by: Reid Hopkins - Charleston, SC

“Franklin was a great guy and will be sorely missed. ”
4 of 8 | Posted by: Bill Marjenhoff - Hagerstown, MD

“Franklin Ashley was a talented and brilliant writer who very kindly and generously wrote the foreword for a book I self-published about the history...Read More »
5 of 8 | Posted by: Tootsie Dennis Kline - Columbia, SC

“I was heartbroken to hear of Franklin's death. I met him while we were both teaching in the College of HRSM (formerly College of Applied Professional...Read More »
6 of 8 | Posted by: Sallie Hook Boggs - Columbia, SC

“Please extend our sincerest condolences to Dottie for her loss ”
7 of 8 | Posted by: Nancy Miller - Mount Pleasant, SC

“Franklin was my Playwright professor and advisor from 1994-96 and a friend, mentor and guide. I found my passion for playwriting and writing in...Read More »
8 of 8 | Posted by: Kess Connelly Clark - Charlotte, NC


Dr. Franklin B. Ashley, an award-winning professor and playwright in the Theatre Department at the College of Charleston, who was also widely known as a professional jazz pianist and a state-wide political strategist, died on Oct. 17 in Mount Pleasant, where he lived with his wife of 52 years, Dorothy {Dottie} Sitton Ashley. Dr. Ashley, who was 76, died of heart failure. The son of Dr. Frank Watts and Alice Wilson Ashley, he was born in Charlotte, NC., and grew up in Columbia, SC. He received a B.A. from Newberry College in 1964 and a M.A. in English in 1966 and a Ph. D. in English from the University of South Carolina in 1970. Having spent his career teaching in state-supported higher education institutions, he taught English at The Citadel (1966-1968), at USC-Aiken (1970-1974); at USC in Columbia (1974-1993) and was a professor of theatre at the College of Charleston (1994-2016). A person of eclectic and far-reaching interests, Dr. Ashley served as the chairman of the Association of Theatre in Higher Education's Playwrights Program consisting of universities and colleges throughout the nation. "Franklin truly put the College of Charleston's Theatre Department on the map," said Todd McNerney, Associate Dean of the School of the Arts, who noted that Dr. Ashley was the first professor to enter the work of the CofC's students, who went on to win regional as well as national recognition at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts..Former College of Charleston president Alex Sanders said, " When I brought Franklin Ashley to the college, I have never done a better day's work, as he was not only a star in the classroom, but also was a hero to all students." In 2004, Dr. Ashley was named the Professor/Scholar of the Year at the College of Charleston, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a faculty member. He was the first Theatre Department professor to be so honored. Dr. Ashley's first publication was " Hard Shadows," a collection of his poetry, which was followed by the book, "James Dickey: A Checklist." He co-authored the bestselling book, "How 'Bout Them Gamecocks" with William Price Fox in 1984 and also regularly wrote for periodicals such as "Harper's," "The Partisan Review," "The New Republic" and "The Paris Review." He also co-wrote and composed the music for "Southern Fried" co-written by William Price Fox which was presented at the Town Theatre in Columbia. Also, his comedy, "The Guest Director" was staged in 1998 by the Lowcountry Heritage Society, and his stage work "Smokey in Hollywood" was staged during the 1994 Piccolo Spoleto Festival. Among his numerous plays performed in Columbia and Charleston was "The Delta Dancer" which was staged at Theatre Off Park in New York City as well as at USC and at the College of Charleston. In the 1980s Dr. Ashley was a writer for "TV Guide" magazine as its designated "Man in the South" and wrote cover stories gleaned from his interviews which included: Elizabeth Taylor during the making of the TV movie "North and South" filmed in Charleston; with Faye Dunaway for her role in "Cold Sassy Tree, " with Joanne Woodward in "Crisis at Central High" and with singer Loretta Lynn, as well as many others. Starting in his college years, when he campaigned for Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC) Dr. Ashley was very involved in politics and served as media director for Dick Riley's gubernatorial campaign in 1978 when he was extremely instrumental in bringing Riley's approval rating up from 5 percent to winning the election. Former Gov. and US Secretary of Education Riley issued the statement: "Franklin was a creative man in so many areas of life, and was particularly helpful to me in my first race for governor in 1978. Working with a modest budget, Franklin produced excellent and effective television spots for the campaign. I will always remember him for that, and, also, of course, for his wonderful sense of humor." Dr. Ashley was also highly instrumental in bringing Pres. Barack Obama and Michelle Obama to speak at a luncheon fundraiser held in April, 2007 at the home of Ted Dintersmith's on lower King Street. The event was sold out at $1,000 a person and was the first fundraiser to be held in South Carolina for the recently announced presidential candidate. A professional musician, Dr. Ashley performed for numerous Piccolo Spoleto events and was especially known for presenting his band during many seasons of Piccolo's Jazz Harbor Boat Tours. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his sister, Susan Ashley Jones of Columbia, a niece Melanie Kicklighter, great-nephew, Chandler Kicklighter, his brothers-in-law James Sitton and John Sitton and his sisters-in-law Betty Sitton and Dale Sitton Rogers. A memorial service will take place at 12 noon on Nov. 10 at Sunrise Presbyterian Church at 3222 Middle St. Sullivan's Island. Also on Nov. 10 a Celebration of Life event and reception will take place at the Albert Simons Center for the Arts at 4 p.m. at the College of Charleston at 54 St. Philip St. The public is invited. Arrangements by J. HENRY STUHR, INC., MOUNT PLEASANT CHAPEL. Memorial contributions may be made to: The Franklin B. Ashley Playwriting Award, Dept. of Theatre, code E518, College of Charleston, 66 George St., Charleston SC 29424.