Friends say goodbye to Ashley Dearing

Ashley Dearing
Ashley Dearing

By Tim Guidera - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A local legend was laid to rest this morning when friends and family said goodbye to Ashley Dearing in service at St. John's Episcopal Church.

Dearing died Saturday night at the age of 85 and after a half-century of contributions to the local sports community.

Although his own sports career ended when he was stricken with polio at the age of 16, Dearing's name came to represent athletic excellence in Savannah. Each spring, the Ashley Dearing Award was presented to the best male high school athlete in the city and for 54 years, the competition for that honor was as heated as any game between any schools.

"To be associated with Ashley Dearing and to win his award just meant everything to a young boy," said 1959 Dearing recipient Charlie Moore.

Sometimes, it changed career paths in addition to validating performance.

Ben Patrick excelled at baseball and basketball at Jenkins High School, but entering his senior year, he decided to also play football, because that sport was a requirement to be considered for the Dearing. Patrick not only won the award, he earned a football scholarship to Duke University and now plays in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals. In February, he caught a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl.

A Savannah native, Dearing was buried in Bonaventure Cemetery following the service at St. John's Episcopal.

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