John M. Ashbrook

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Dubbed the "most famous politician from Licking County," John M. Ashbrook was born in Johnstown on September 21, 1928. He graduated from Johnstown High School in 1946 and served in the Navy for two years, traveling to the Antarctic with Admiral Byrd. In 1952, he graduated from Harvard and later became the publisher of the Johnstown Independent, a weekly newspaper owned by his family. In 1955, he graduated from the Ohio State University Law School and began practicing law in Johnstown. [1]

His political career began in 1956 when he was elected to the Ohio House at the age of 28. He then went on to serve as president of the National Young Republicans from 1957-1959. Ashbrook was elected to Congress in 1960 from the 17th District, defeating the Democratic incumbent. He was the chairman of the American Conservative Union for five years, as well as a member of the steering committee of the Committee on One Million, which fought to block the inclusion of communist China to the United Nations. He came into the national spotlight during his unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 1972. [1]

Ashbrook was married to Jean Spencer Ashbrook and had three daughters, Barbara, Laura and Madeline; a step-son John Griley; and two step-daughters Elizabeth and Katherine Griley. [2] His brother, James Ashbrook, was strangled to death on April 23, 1980, and his murder remains unsolved. [3]

Congressman Ashbrook died suddenly on April 24, 1982 after he collapsed in his office in Johnstown. [4]. While initial reports stated he died of a heart attack, a further autopsy reported he died from internal bleeding in his stomach and bowels. [4] Ashbrook served 21 years in Congress. At the time of his death he was the ranking Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee and a member of the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. He was also campaigning for the Senate. [5] More than 100 dignitaries from Washington flew in for Ashbrook's funeral in Johnstown, including Ohio Governor James Rhodes. [6] Ashbrook was cremated and his remains buried in Green Hill Cemetery.

Ashbrook's wife, Jean, ran in the special election to take over his Congressional seat for the remaining 7 months of his term. [7] Ashland College memorialized the late Congressman by renaming the library the John M. Ashbrook Memorial Library, housing the John M. Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs on the top floor, which will house his Congressional papers and other memorabilia. [8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Associated Press. (1982, April 26). Ashbrook biography. The Newark Advocate, p. 1.
  2. Big crowd expected at Ashbrook funeral. (1982, April 27). The Newark Advocate.
  3. Miller, T. (1982, May 7). FBI report detailed James Ashbrook's death. Columbus Citizen Journal.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Cleveland-Associated Press. (1982, April 27). Examination of Ashbrook didn't center on digestion. The Newark Advocate
  5. Ashbrook gave his best to constituents, country. (1982, April 27). The Newark Advocate, p. 4.
  6. Dignitaries at Ashbrook funeral. (1982, April 30). The Newark Advocate.
  7. Fugate, L. (1982, April 30). Path open for wife of Ashbrook. The Newark Advocate, p. 1.
  8. College honors Ashbrook. (1983, April 7). The Newark Advocate.