Cover photo for Carol "Donna" Ashley's Obituary
Carol "Donna" Ashley Profile Photo
1945 Donna 2023

Carol "Donna" Ashley

March 29, 1945 — November 20, 2023


Carol Donna Eckart was born to Dorothy and Elmer Eckart on March 29th, 1945. She was the youngest of three children in the family home on 1601 W. Short St. Donna went to Columbian Elementry, William Chrisman Junior High, and graduated from William Chrisman High School in 1962. She met Richard Bates Ashley in Cole Camp, MO and they married in 1963. They lived on Short St. in an upstairs apartment. The first two of her three children were born during this time, Richard Eckart Ashley born in 1964 and Daniel Steven Ashley born in 1967. 

The young family moved to Ludington, MI in 1970 because of Richard’s employment. Their residence became a home away from home for many friends and work associates. Richard’s employment soon took them south to a new home in Canton, GA in 1973. Again, their home was always open to friends as Donna filled the role of surrogate mother to fellow employees of Richard’s, with many dinner parties and music late into the night. It was in Canton where their third child, Mathew Burke Ashley was born in 1974. 

Donna always had many hobbies and interests, a trait she acquired from her father, Elmer. She restored furniture, canned vegetables from the garden, and sewed for her family. She enjoyed wood carving, quilting, crocheting, and photography. Again, the family pulled up roots and moved, this time to Bay City, TX in 1977. By now her babies were restless children, so Donna became active in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. She soon took over as Cub Pack Leader and created a top-notch Cub Scout program with never-before-seen recruitment and community involvement. Again, the family moved, this time to Florissant, MO in 1979 for a short stint and then off to Enfield, CT in 1980. 

Donna’s husband, Richard was often working on projects that kept him away from the family. The many months alone with her children and the constant moving took its toll on their marriage and in 1983 they divorced. Then, with the death of her mother Dorothy, she brought her family back home to Independence. 

Now, faced with what to do next with her life and how to provide for her family, she decided on nursing and threw herself into going to school and graduated from St. Luke's School of Nursing with an R.N. degree in 1986. She concentrated on psychiatric nursing and began working at Western Missouri Mental Health. Donna was highly respected and sought after in her field, being pursued to run the psychiatric floor at the Independence Sanitarium, as well as managing several private doctor offices in the Kansas City area. 

Donna always had a deep spiritual grounding, inspired by her father, and that spirituality turned to the study of Reiki and the use of crystals and new-age healing. This spurred in her an interest in gems and minerals which she shared with friends and family.

Donna was never idle and always had a hobby to concentrate on. She was a voracious reader and had many interests. She updated and maintained her family home as her father did, thinking of the house as a member of the family. Donna loved animals and had several cats and dogs over the years. These pets filled the void left by her departed father and her sons who started their own lives. Donna was also very politically active, campaigning for The Democratic Party from 1992 to 2016. She was very active in the community, working with the MidTown Corridor improvements and attending citizen-involved community activities. She was active with the Truman Library Institute and various Independence City Council committees. She had the reputation of a determined and feisty advocate for the community and was often greeted with ‘Oh, you’re Donna Ashley”.  

The physical toll and dangers of psychiatric nursing shifted Donna’s professional direction as she got older and she became a dedicated patient advocate for people navigating the insurance industry. She retired from Assurant Health Insurance Company in 2014. Retirement didn’t settle her down and she was always busy with grandchildren, neighbors, and her pets. Donna had a series of health-related issues and surgeries over the years and always recovered but it started to become evident that Donna’s memory was beginning to lapse in 2019. Donna’s biggest wish was to remain in the family home she loved so much and dote on her two dogs, which her sons we happy to oblige. By her 78th birthday, it was evident she needed around-the-clock care which her family wasn’t able to provide and she moved to an Alzheimer's care facility. It was here that she finally succumbed to her fate and passed away in her sleep on Nov. 20th, 2023. Donna leaves behind her brother Neil Eckart and his wife Bonnie, her son Richard and his wife Stephanie and their children Spencer and Gwendolyn, her son Daniel Ashley and her son Mathew Ashley and his wife Linda.       

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Monday, December 4, 2023

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Central time)

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Funeral Service

Monday, December 4, 2023

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)

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