Minnehaha community remembers a cherished alumnus and the impact she made on those around her
Ashley Block – a beloved Minnehaha alumna, a summa cum laude graduate, a collegiate cross country and track runner, a Ph.D anthropology student, an avid biker and an exceedingly compassionate, brilliantly determined, steadfast sister and daughter and friend – died on Sept. 12, 2016 in Athens, Georgia. She was cycling with two friends when she was struck by a car driven by an intoxicated driver. Block was 25 years old.
Block was a current student at the University of Georgia. She graduated at the top of her class at Sewanee University of the South after finishing high school at Minnehaha as an irreplaceable member of the Class of 2009.
Ashley is remembered for her empathy: for immediately noticing the melancholy classmate in the back of the band room and unhesitatingly snatching up her clarinet, maneuvering through the row of chairs and asking “Hey, how are you?”
Ashley is remembered for her intense ambition: for her prolonged aspiration to run a marathon and her dedication towards training and completing those 26 miles as a high schooler; for her talk of working at Disney World someday and her persistence to earn her that staff name tag, a few years later.
She is remembered for her humble disposition: for her selflessness despite her situation. She is remembered for continuing to bring energy and leadership to the JV tennis team as a senior amongst younger girls.
“Most kids won’t do that,” Minnehaha tennis coach Mark Norlander said. “That showed me that she was committed to staying with what she started and committed to other players.”
She is remembered for her endearing quirks. “She had a sense of southern manners,” band director Dianne Hallberg said. “We’d be in a lesson and I’d say ‘Try this’ and she would say ‘Okay, ma’am’ and we’d laugh a little because we’re not used to that as Midwesterners. She was very well-mannered.”
She is remembered for her generous spirit and her desire to make the world a better place.
“One day we were driving somewhere and she started commenting on how she wanted to help all the homeless people we passed, but she didn’t have any money with her,” her close friend and Minnehaha alumna Victoria Harms commented. “Instead of just forgetting about it, she went home that weekend and made ‘helping bags’. They consisted of things like snacks and water. She always had about 15 of these bags in her car so that whenever she saw someone who was down on their luck, she would give them one. And that’s just a small example of the kind of light she brought to the people around her.”
She is remembered for her magnetic personality, for her raw desire to love and respect others, for the “caring” and “brilliant” and “silly” and “thoughtful” and “generous” and “honest” and “passionate” woman that she was and will continue to be in memory.
“She had this Cinderella optimism about her,” Hallberg said.
So, rest in peace to a young woman who inspired those around her, who grit her teeth while training for a marathon, who clasped her lips to the reed of her clarinet after calmly nodding “yes ma’am”, and who instinctively loved others before herself. For the passing of a spectacular lady, we grieve. But to Ashley and the subtle southern charm she will be remembered by, we hold you in our hearts as a princess – whose beauty will endure long after the castle’s clock strikes 12.