Louis Ashley Elbl, Jr., was born in Kansas City, Kansas, the son of L. Ashley Elbl, Sr. and Esther Buller Elbl, on April 14, 1943. Ashley, as most people knew him, or Ash, as his family and friends called him, or “Coach” as he came to be known at Brookdale Assisted Living and Memory Care, lived in KCK until 1946 when the family moved to a new house in Fairway, KS. Ashley called the house on Norwood Road his home from that time until 2018 when he moved into Brookdale Assisted Living.
From an early age Ashley was very interested in sports and athletics. This can be attributed to, or blamed on, his father, who was an athlete in college, and who coached high school basketball and taught chemistry for several years. Ash’s dad was very interested in attending sporting events even after his coaching career ended. The family was able to attend the first game the Kansas City Athletics played in Kansas City in 1954, and the first basketball game the University of Kansas played in Allen Fieldhouse in 1955. Quite a few people were impressed that Ashley could name the starting lineups for the A‘s and Jayhawks, and quite probably also for the Detroit Tigers and Kansas State Wildcats fifty years after those events. Actually, Ashley could probably tell a person the score, the hero or goat of the game, weather conditions, what time of day the game was played, and what he had for lunch that day for almost every game he ever attended or coached.
Ashley’s interest in sports continued from the time he started playing summer baseball in the Johnson County 3&2 program, which he participated in from grade school through high school, and basketball, which he played from junior high on. Many times Ash and friends would shovel six or more inches of snow from the “full court” in the backyard so they could have games after the court dried. Even though the court was only about 40 by 25 feet, there were two baskets, which led to a lot of very intense scrimmages. Flood lights allowed Ash and friends to play until late at night—it’s a wonder neighbors didn’t call the police! Even though Ash’s brother was too young to participate with his friends until he was in high school, Ashley usually had time to have a game of catch in the front yard, or play a spirited game of whiffle ball in the back. It’s to his credit that he sometimes even let his little brother win at whiffle ball or at ping pong.
Ashley continued playing basketball in high school at Shawnee Mission North. Although there were times that were not as great as others, Ash hit his stride the second half of his senior year, when he started averaging about twelve points a game. He was proud and embarrassed that the SM North basketball program in 1961 declared that he combined “brains with brawn,” since he was the National Honor Society president his senior year.
After high school, Ashley attended the University of Kansas. He was a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, and although there were many benefits of being a “Delt,” he often joked that the best thing about the frat was being able to play intramural basketball throughout college. His first two years, Ashley was enrolled in chemical engineering. At that point, though, Ash gave into the “curse of the family.” Both his parents and several of his aunts and uncles had been teachers, and it was at this point in time that he decided to major in Science Education. Ashley graduated from KU in 1965, and started working on his master’s degree, which he received in 1969. In the spring semester of 1966, Ashley started his first teaching job at Wyandotte High School, in the same chemistry room where his dad had taught 25 years earlier.
Ash continued to teach and coach tennis at Wyandotte until 1978, when he transferred to Sumner Academy. There Ashley taught chemistry, and coached tennis and eighth grade basketball, retiring in 1999. In addition, from 1975 to 1982, Ash taught at Donnelly College. After his retirement from KCK public schools, Ashley decided he’d still like to teach. He was able to get a job teaching chemistry at Bishop O’Hara High School in Kansas City, MO, and taught there until 2006. Ash finished his career teaching one year at Olathe North High School, permanently retiring in 2007. He had many favorable memories of the staff, students, and experiences everywhere he taught. Ashley was a member of the Kansas City Kansas National Education Association, and also was a member of Phi Delta Kappa.
Throughout much of his teaching career, Ashley received National Science Education grants to take advanced science classes in many different locales. Some of the places where he went to summer school and enjoyed good memories were the University of Florida, University of Georgia, Hope College in Michigan, and Creighton University.
Throughout his life, Ashley remained a staunch Jayhawk. He attended KU football games for years, and was a KU basketball season ticket holder for 45 years. Ash enjoyed going to as many games as possible, often taking his brother and sometimes letting his brother’s friends go in his place. One of Ash’s frustrations was that he had a nephew and niece who graduated from Kansas State. He usually put up with their shenanigans, and was always able to joke with them. One of his niece’s good memories is that Ash was able to tell her jokes every time they got together, and no matter how bad the joke, she wound up laughing because of the exuberance with which he told his jokes. Another of Ash’s pastimes was watching and keeping score of every football, baseball, and basketball game on TV that he could. He became especially interested in watching games involving schools where he went to summer school in the past. When not watching sports on TV, Ash was an enthusiastic game show viewer. He could often answer questions better than the contestants, and showed a great deal of excitement when he did well.
Ashley was a long time member of Old Mission Methodist Church in Fairway, KS, and may have been the only remaining charter member from Old Mission’s beginning in 1948. He was a long time usher and member of the Saturday morning prayer group. Faith was a very important part of Ash’s life.
Ashley passed peacefully on September 29, 2021. A celebration of his life will be planned and announced for a later date.
The family request donations in Ashley's memory be made to:
Kansas City, KS Public Schools Foundation for Excellence 2010 N 59th St. Kansas City, KS 66104
Old Mission Methodist Church 5519 State Park Rd Fairway, KS 66205