William J Ashworth aka "Billy Chicago"
December 10th, 1944 - June 15th, 2020
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William J Ashworth
December 10th, 1944 - June 15th, 2020
He ran a printing press in the garage of our Tarzana Avenue home in Poway, CA in the late 80s; held together with rubber bands placed carefully at key mechanical points and at just the right tension. Just one of so many hidden signs of his untapped genius. A delicate balance of ink, art, love, passion, study and science that kept that beautiful machine, Warren Printing, this man and his family running in pursuit of dreams and love.
Dreams instilled by him, of course. Consummate dreamer. Coach. Mentor. Manager. Confidant. Gatherer of vast amount ideas, and of knowledge in so many different subjects. At one point, planning to sail around the world and in preparation, taking a celestial navigation course that allowed him to solve complex nautical word problems in the Sunday San Diego Union Tribune paper and preparing him for his voyage. All of it inspired by a simple business trip in 1974 to San Diego for training as a salesman, following which he knew he wanted to move there and so we did. Dad driving out first, and Mom, packing their four small children, John (4), Wendi (3), Jerry (2), and Mike (6 months) onto an airplane and into a whole new life.
He joined a sailing club and took us out onto the ocean in San Diego. One glorius voyage taking us directly into a school of dolphins who swam beneath our feet, hanging off the edge of the bow, and giving us an experience that day that was profound and amazing. Life-altering in its affect on the belief that your dreams really do matter, regardless of their ultimate outcome. This idea was solidified with Dad's unconditional commitment to our own dreams, no matter how expansive or profound. He was constantly working to convince you that anything was possible. Often, he believed it was possible before you did.
The ultimate salesman. Always thinking like an entrepreneur. Once taking it as far as growing a crop of green onions in the backyard on Evening Star Drive in Poway, CA, forever destroying our favorite wiffle ball field, but once again, teaching us to take action on our ideas in spite of their potential for failure.
"Billy Chicago" as he branded himself following his return to Chicago-Land, continued to hone his expertise as a paralegal in Wheaton, IL right around the turn of the century. He really did have many talents, interests and unique pursuits, and we've done our best to capture at least the essence of them here.
And of course, he went by other names too...
"Big B." "Pops." … and of course, "Billy" by his wife, Ann Ashworth of 53 years. Especially when she heard him sharing one of his many crude and colorful and still somehow endearing off-color musings, uttered carefully and with tremendous care in a voice-over to match it swimmingly. Some of those voices seeming to find their roots in his birthplace of Memphis, TN. Though he didn't stay there long, and was ultimately raised by the amazing woman we all know as 'Grandma George' and her husband 'Bimmer' on the North Side of Chicago.
The streets of Chicago taught him incredible lessons, including the bitter-sweet joy that can come from being a Cubs fan. This environment produced amazing stories that he loved to tell again and again. We relished them as kids and still do today. This is at least in part where "Billy Chicago" got his billing. Dad was a devoted Cubs fan, though I do believe he rooted for the Padres when they beat them in the division playoff in back in 1984. Back when baseball was still being played.
Though the love he gushed on you from his heart was one of his most endearing traits and legacies, growing-up where he did and how he did, solidified in him a kind of toughness that is remarkable and rare. A kind of resolute desk for the soul of humanity; or maybe just for his kids, grand kids and those who knew him intimately. This combination I realize now, created in him an amazing super-power in that not only could he inspire you in ways that really brought out your best, but he could hold you accountable to the toughness it would take to get you to your destination. All of which has instilled a powerful legacy those that survive him.
He cultivated this inspiration and fortitude all the way up until the end. Fighting after multiple strokes. Still believing every day that fighting and hanging in there were worth it. Worthy. Noble. Noteworthy. And it was. We can all see that clearly now. He left us with fire burning in our hearts and bellies. He left us with dignity, respect, nobility, and now a clear vision of decision about what comes next.
In spite of multiple strokes over the last 10 years of his life he amazed us by navigating his tablet to watch bread-making and watercolor tutorials on youtube. He was even tuning in to John's YouTube channel to see the latest from his eldest son on a regular basis. Though he suffered many ailments, he always harbored the belief that he would eventually get better. He never let go of that idea until the very end. Until the end was clear. Not until he was called. Your circle of angles now one spirit stronger.
Dad & Mom were married in 1967. Meeting at the University of Illinois in 1965 where Dad was on the golf team. Sharing a physics class first, along with romantic winter outings on the golf course with bright orange balls, and then a lifetime together. Agreeing early that six "blond-headed" babies had to be part of the agreement. No racism, of course, just vision. Clear and calculated vision of the beautiful life and legacy the two of them would create for all of us. And they did.
Bill Ashworth was preceded in death by his daughter, Wendi Ashworth. He is survived by his wife Ann Ashworth, and his kids, John Ashworth, Jerry Ashworth, Mike Ashworth, and Heather Ashworth-Palazzo. And His grandchildren Carl (19), Ana (16), Scarlet (6) and Nico (4). Bill's sister Mary Rizkallah lives in Park Ridge, Il.
If I missed anything, please don't hesitate writing me...
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