Glenn Ash is remembered for bringing to Tacoma the largest religious event in the city’s history, the 1983 Billy Graham Crusade at the Tacoma Dome. Ash, who was crusade chairman, died Sept. 6 in Prescott, AZ, his home for the past eight years. He was 92.
A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, Oct. 10 at the Lemay Family Collection Foundation Marymount Event Center, 325 152nd St. E., Spanaway. Tom Phillips of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will speak. Phillips directed the 1983 crusade. Ash considered his crusade role as his life’s highlight.
The crusade was sponsored by the Greater Tacoma Christian Laymen’s Outreach of which Ash was the founding president. Ash and his associates in 1979 launched the Pierce County Prayer Breakfast in the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall. That event brought to Tacoma and Pierce County such speakers as author Josh McDowell, U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield of Oregon, author Charles Colson, astronaut Col. James Irwin, Army Chief of Staff Gen. John Vessey Jr., NFL star Bill Glass of the 1964 champion Cleveland Browns, USAF Reserve Gen. author Jerry White, New York Yankees all-star 2nd baseman Bobby Richardson, NFL quarterback Jon Kitna and Dr. Billy Graham. Held each May for the past 37 years, the prayer breakfast draws more than 1,500 participants annually and is considered the second largest in the U.S. behind the National Prayer Breakfast.
Ash and his wife, Mary, who died in May, moved to Arizona in the 1993 and resided in Yuma, Tucson and Prescott. He founded the Yuma County Prayer Breakfast, which continues after 22 years.
In Pierce County, Ash was a successful businessman, community leader and youth sports sponsor. He was a founding member and president of the Bethel High School Booster Club, chairman of the Pierce County Library Board, Tacoma Bible Institute board member, Immanuel Baptist Church Sunday School teacher and superintendent and Life Center Assembly of God school board member. He was a Rotary Club of Tacoma Community Service Award recipient. For many years Ash sponsored youth sports teams and also sponsored, coached and played adult fastpitch.
After World War II service with the 43rd Infantry Division in Northern Luzon, The Philippines, he entered the auto sales business with co-ownership of Tacoma Auto Exchange. The company became active in the “War Assets” program aimed at selling surplus military heavy equipment and other vehicles to the public, and the business grew rapidly. In 1949 he formed Ash Motor Co. in Parkland and mounted a surplus Lockheed Ventura bomber on the office building roof, creating a local landmark. Ash Motors became Ash GMC in 1966; Ash retired and sold the dealership in 1975.
The Ash family resided in Elk Plain near 260th and Mountain Highway on a 60-acre ranch. Breeding, raising and showing Arabian horses was a family focus during the 60s, 70s and 80s. Ash Arabians became known nationally. Ash was born in Wisconsin and moved with his family to Tenino in 1936. He graduated from Tenino High School and moved a short time later to Tacoma, where he secured a “lot boy” job at a South Tacoma Way used car lot. After World War II commenced, he worked at Tacoma Shipyards and then enlisted in the Army. He is survived by four daughters, 10 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.