Cary, NC – Sadly, Daphne Ashworth passed away on Friday, January 19, 2018, leaving behind a legacy that helped shape Downtown Cary as well as a number of other cultural contributions.
Shaping Cary’s History
Daphne Ashworth, born Daphne Adams in 1932 in Willow Springs, North Carolina, graduated from UNC – Chapel Hill and moved to Cary with her husband Ralph Ashworth; the two were married for 62 years. Together, they founded Ashworth Drugs in 1957, where it remains Cary’s oldest restaurant still in operation. When Ashworth Drugs opened, it was one of only two pharmacies in all of Cary.
Ashworth was involved in the creation of other businesses, such as Lynn’s Hallmark Shops in Raleigh in 1969 and the Ashworth Village center where many other stores have found a home in Downtown Cary. She was also a founding member of organizations that have shaped the development of Cary including the Heart of Cary Association, the Cary Chamber of Commerce Board and the Wake Med Foundation Board.
“Her warmth, passion and dedication to downtown will be remembered and missed for years to come,” said Deanna Crossman, president of the Heart of Cary Association. “On behalf of the board, we send our warmest wishes and deepest sympathies to Ralph and the entire Ashworth family.”
Her contributions to Downtown Cary were not only economic. Ashworth was also a founding member of the Cary Library in 1960. The library was founded by the Cary Junior Woman’s Club, now known as the Western Wake Woman’s Club. The Cary Library first opened at 143 W Chatham St. and moved around until it stayed to its current address at 310 S Academy St. in 1977.
On top of her contributions to changing the physical appearance of Cary, from the landmark pharmacy to the development of Downtown Cary, Ashworth was also an important part of fostering culture in Cary.
Ashworth was a founding patron of Cary Debutante Ball and the Cary Visual Arts Board. Together with Regina McLaurin, Ashworth was also a co-chair of a campaign to raise $400,000 in capital for repairs to the Page-Walker Arts & History Center in 1987.
Both Daphne and Ralph Ashworth were long-time supporters of both the YMCA of the Triangle and Dorcas Ministries’ Dorcas Shop.
Along with her husband, Ashworth has been recognized several times with town awards, most recently the 2017 Hometown Spirit Award. Other accolades include Cary Citizens of the Year and Cary Chamber of Commerce Business People of the Year.
Visitation with Ashworth’s family will take place at MacGregor Downs Country Club, 430 St. Andrews Ln., on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 from 5:30 to 8 PM.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at First United Methodist Church, 117 S Academy St., on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 11 AM.
Please feel free to add your own memories and tributes in the comments to this story.
Story by staff reports. Photo of Ralph and Daphne Ashworth by Jonathan Fredin/Cary Magazine. Photo of Ashworth Drugs courtesy Ashworth Drugs.