When she joined the Board of the Alzheimer’s Resource Center, Pat Ashley told the Executive Director that they were getting a “two for one” deal. She meant it. Pat and Regie Ashley are a formidable team. For the past 25 years, they have lived in rural Wakulla County where they have developed the resources that lighten the load of those who care for family members with Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementias.
Pat was born in Tennessee and grew up in Memphis. She met Regie, who hails from Sanford, Florida, in Memphis while he was stationed at a Naval facility there. They met at church and, almost 60 years later, faith remains at the center of their life and activities.
After serving in the Navy as an airman, Regie’s aviation skills led them to Orlando where he was an air traffic controller. Retirement brought them to Wakulla County where they could live near an airport and continue flying.
Pat served as caregiver for her mother who had Alzheimer’s Disease. She participated in a support group in Orlando and was asked to start a group at Eden Springs in Wakulla County in 1993 after moving her mother there. This grew into a network of supportive services in the rural county including two support groups and a much-needed respite program in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Project. Although the pandemic forced them to close, programs have recently reopened.
Regie was by Pat’s side all the way and still volunteers at the respite program. Pat and Regie keep current in the field by attending multiple educational events, such as the annual Alzheimer’s Update, to increase their knowledge about current best practices on behavioral and medical care. They always have time to offer comfort and support to anxious caregivers. Their contribution to the well-being of caregivers in Wakulla County over the years is incalculable, as there are no other local resources specifically targeted to this population.
Regie still flies his own plane. He and Pat enjoy travel, flying to visit family and favorite locations such as Cedar Key. They are active in the Lake Ellen Baptist Church. Pat quilts baby blankets for a pregnancy center and jokes that she “supervises” Regie as he does the yardwork she is no longer able to do.
Pat’s secret to positive aging is “putting the Lord first.” Regie adds that they also put each other first, enjoy spending time and doing things together, which he feels is the secret to their happy marriage.