Royal D. Ashburn, 73, of Aurora, OH, died January 9, 2021 at South Pointe Hospital in Cleveland, OH from COVID. A service in celebration of Royal’s life will be held at Vinje Lutheran Church, 1101 Willmar Ave SW, Willmar, MN at 11:30 am, Monday, August 2nd with visitation starting at 10:30 am. Military Honors will follow the service along with a reception to follow in the fellowship hall. Those wishing to make a donation in Royal’s memory may send checks to: City of Maynard, Veterans Memorial Fund, Maynard City Hall, P.O. Box 247, Maynard, MN 56260. Funeral arrangements are with Harvey Anderson Funeral Home in Willmar. www.hafh.org
During his last week of life, Royal suffered greatly as COVID wreaked havoc on his lungs and body. Brenda and her family do not want anyone else to have to endure this kind of pain, heartbreak and trauma. In memory of Royal, out of respect for his family, and to protect those who cannot yet get vaccinated - they are pleading with anyone who is not vaccinated to PLEASE, please wear a mask while you are indoors at the visitation or service or in close proximity to anyone outdoors. Masks will be provided at the church entrance. The service will also be livestreamed at https://youtu.be/qdmkfJXD6nI.
Royal was born in Benson, MN, on July 28, 1947 to Vinton and Christine (Neal) Ashburn and grew up on the Ashburn farm in Louriston Township, Chippewa County, MN. He attended Country School #10 with his older siblings, walking or sharing bikes for the long trek there and back. When his parents moved to Maynard, MN, during his senior year of high school, he lived and farmed with his brothers Dennis and Jim and graduated from Murdock High School in 1965.
Royal was a proud Veteran of the U.S. Navy (1966-70), serving on nuclear powered submarines including the USS Andrew Jackson. In November of 1970, Royal married his sweetheart Brenda Arends. They lived in Montevideo, MN, before spending many decades in Maynard where they raised their daughter, Alycia. One of the things he and Brenda enjoyed most was cheering on Alycia and her teammates at track and cross country meets in high school and college. Royal worked for many years at Thorstad Construction Co., Inc., eventually becoming a co-owner. He served his community as a volunteer firefighter for the Maynard Fire Department for over 25 years, president of the Maynard Lutheran Church council, member of the school board, member of the American Legion, and a firearms safety instructor. Royal was instrumental in establishing the Maynard Veterans Memorial in 2012. His military service was very important to him, and he mentored and supported others in theirs.
He loved fishing and hunting, especially in Alaska and Missouri with family. Royal loved gardening, bird watching, and anything outdoors – especially when he and Brenda lived on Long Lake near Willmar, MN. They moved to Ohio in 2018 to be closer to Alycia, Drew, and their grandkids. Royal loved pushing his grandchildren in the swing, teaching them how to plant and care for trees and flowers, making muffins, sneaking ice cream to them when Alycia & Drew weren’t looking, watching them ride bikes, digging for worms, feeding the birds, and many hours of cuddling and reading. Royal and Brenda were grateful to celebrate 50 years of marriage in November 2020.
Royal will be remembered for his bright smile, the twinkle in his eyes, his infectious laughter, and his huge heart and generosity. His authentic concern for others made them feel welcomed and important. He had a knack for making people laugh and could be quite a character, even with those he had just met.
Royal was preceded in death by his parents; his siblings Wallace Ashburn, Ronald Ashburn, and Verna Feller; brothers-in-law Marvin Feller, Arnold Jasicki, Ralph Moline, and Gary Harguth; his parents-in-law, George and Alyce Arends; and his grandson Nathaniel Ashburn-Genszler.
He is survived by his wife, Brenda (Arends) Ashburn; daughter Alycia Ashburn and son-in-law Andrew Genszler; grandchildren Brooke and William Ashburn-Genszler; siblings Audrey Jasicki, Joyce Moline, Larry and Joan Ashburn, Carol and Joe Simmonds, James and Twyla Ashburn, Elaine Harguth, Dennis and Elaine Ashburn; sisters-in-law Muriel Ashburn and Lucy Ashburn; and many nieces and nephews.