Dennis Ashby, 65

Dennis Ashby, 65, of Grinnell and formerly of Des Moines, passed away Sept. 7, 2021, at UnityPoint Taylor House in Johnston.

A funeral mass will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18, at St. Mary Catholic Church in Grinnell. Interment will be at Bethel Cemetery north of Lynnville. A luncheon will follow at Elks Lodge in Grinnell. The Ashby family requests for those attending the service and reception to wear a face mask. Visitation will begin at 1 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, at Smith Funeral Home in Grinnell and his family will receive friends from 4-7 p.m. A rosary will be held at 3:30 p.m. at Smith Funeral Home. The Ashby family requests for those attending the rosary and visitation to wear a face mask. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be designated to the Kellogg Historical Society or to St. Mary Catholic Church, mailed in care of the Smith Funeral Home, PO Box 368, Grinnell, IA 50112. Memories and condolences may be shared with Dennis’ family online at

Dennis was born Aug. 30,1956, to Robert W and Mary Margaret (Ruble) Ashby. He was raised on a farm west of Grinnell. He retired to this same home several years ago. Dennis graduated from Grinnell-Newburg High School in 1974, Grinnell College in 1978, and Drake Law School in Des Moines in December 1984.

Jan. 6, 1979, he married Carolyn Cline of Guernsey at St. Mary Catholic Church in Grinnell. To this union two daughters, Angelina and Elizabeth, were born.

Dennis’ career spanned his many diverse interests. He farmed with his dad and brother until he entered law school in 1982. Once graduating law school, he worked part-time for the law offices at Farm Bureau while starting his own law practice in Des Moines. He had a rewarding career helping farmers during the farm crisis and working with small businesses. He started teaching non-traditional students for Upper Iowa University-Des Moines Center, which spanned 30 years. He also taught undergraduates at Grandview University for 15 years. For seven years in the 1990s, he served as pastoral care minister at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Des Moines. In 1998, he started Well Read Books, a used bookstore, first on University Avenue, then in the Sherman Hills area of Des Moines. He sold the store in 2015 after 17 years of operation. He retired from all his endeavors in January 2017, returning to his childhood home west of Grinnell.

He was an active member of the Basilica of St. John Catholic Church in Des Moines and St. Mary Catholic Church in Grinnell. He was a longtime member of Knights of Columbus and more recently the Elks in Grinnell. He was a member of the Des Moines Duplicate Bridge Club and Scrabble Club. He will always be known by his family and friends for playing any kind of cards and games.

His family was the most important thing to him. He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Carolyn Cline Ashby; children Angelina (Greg) Willard of Des Moines and Elizabeth (Scott) Fuchser of Idaho Falls, ID; nine grandchildren Perpetua, Felicity, Leonard, Agnus, Hubert, Robert, Lucia Willard of Des Moines, and Sadie and Sebastian Fuchser of Idaho Falls, ID; and his brother, Michael (Deborah) Ashby of Gilman. Extended family include his mother-in-law Doris Cline; sister and brothers-in-law Jim Cline, Kathy (Chuck) Baetsle, Beverly Archuleta, Loretta Cline, Robert (Lynette) Cline, and Rita McVey; and numerous aunts, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his parents, father-in-law Leonard Cline, and brother-in-law John Archuleta.

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