Most people were taken by surprise at news yesterday that Ken Ash, the Operations Manager at Steele Communications, had passed away. He was just 44 years old. (Ken is shown at right, enjoying one of his favorite pursuits; photo from vocm.com.)
Ash was diagnosed with liver cancer just 10 months ago and, according to John Steele, President of Steele Communications, "nothing really went his way with (treatments) right from the beginning. He fought the good fight until he passed away, Monday morning at 7:30 am."
I knew Ash in the professional sense, having met him through the Board of Directors of ACE Memorial, where we both volunteered. He was quiet, soft-spoken and not a big talker, despite his earlier career as a deejay. When Ken did talk, people listened because he always added something of value to the discussion.
True to his nature and not unlike his colleague Scott Chafe, who died just 14 days ago Ash kept quiet about his illness. "He kept it under wraps to some degree," Steele said. "He was a very private guy and didn't want people to see him not in his prime."
Steele said that Ken was a great radio announcer when he was on the air. "But his biggest contribution to the company was when he was off the air. He was a smart guy. He had a big following with the staff and management, and his loss has created a big void here."
Steele said it's par for the course to say glowing things about people who have passed on. "It's often said that people were liked by others," he said. "Well, quite often the reason they are liked is because they are patsies, always being pushed around and afraid to say no to anybody. Well Ken wasn't like that. He was a very caring guy and a very fair guy, but he held his ground and didn't let others push him around. He always treated others with respect and got respect himself. He wasn't one of those ego-driven broadcaster guys. He was different from other broadcasters. He was a confident guy, just a real well-balanced individual. He got right off on his work and didn't need big accolades. He embraced work, he didn't endure it."
I asked Steele if he had any final words with Ken, or if there was anything he wished he had said to Ken before he passed.
"We had nothing to say because we always said it, you know what I mean? We had a good relationship. There was no doubt about our regard for each other. There was no unfinished business in that way. It was always a straight up relationship. He was a guy who always gave his opinion. He didn't blow smoke up your arse. He told it the way he saw it. He had your back and he was one of the best guys we ever had working with us."
Ken Ash is resting at Carnell's on Freshwater Road, Wednesday 2:00 to 4:00 pm and 7:00 to 9:00 pm and Thursday from 10:00 am to 12 noon. The funeral service is Thursday at 2:00 pm from Gower Street United Church.