Nathaniel “Nat” E. Ashe, an area poultry industry leader, died Monday at the age of 86.
Ashe was born in the New Holland area, and following his mother’s death 13 days after his birth, his grandparents raised him, said the Rev. Bruce Fields, associate pastor of pastoral care at First Baptist Church of Gainesville.
Ashe went on to hold various leadership positions in the Georgia Poultry Federation and founded his own company, Blue Ridge Grain and Marketing Inc.
“It’s a great American story,” Fields said.
Fields said Ashe lived through the April 6, 1936, tornado in Gainesville and also saw President Franklin D. Roosevelt speak in Gainesville in 1938.
Ashe at various times was state vice president of the Southeastern Poultry and Egg Foundation, charter president of the Georgia Feed Council, chairman of the Georgia Poultry Park Committee and a life member of the Poultry Leaders Round Table.
After working for Gainesville Milling Co., he managed HFC Feeds on Browns Bridge Road and later on Queen City Parkway. HFC, which stood for Hall, Forsyth and Cherokee counties, became part of Mar-Jac, a Gainesville-based poultry company.
Ashe then founded Blue Ridge Grain and Marketing Inc., where he sold feed ingredients.
Max Ward, who was president of Mar-Jac, said Ashe was a positive, honest and efficient man who made his mark in the poultry industry.
“He was one of many pioneers that contributed in his area,” Ward said.
Ward said Ashe “served in many capacities and was one of my right-hand men.”
Fields said Ashe also helped get the chicken put on top of the monument at Poultry Park in downtown Gainesville.
Additionally, Ward said he was impressed with the way Ashe was involved in the community. Ashe was chairman of the Gainesville College Foundation Trustees.
“He continued to work in the background,” Ward said.
Fields said Ashe was briefly in the Army before serving eight years in the National Guard, where he was a sergeant.
Ashe also served as charter president of the Gainesville Swim Association and a trustee of Gainesville Midland Railroad.
Fields said Ashe was a faithful member of First Baptist since 1962 and loved being part of the Anglers Sunday School Class. The minister also said Ashe enjoyed Westerns and was often watching “Bonanza” or “Gunsmoke” when Fields visited him.
“He loved cowboys,” Fields said.
Ashe’s funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the chapel of First Baptist Church.