The Philadelphia Foundation
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Richard A. Ash Fund

Established in 2005

Richard A. Ash was a prominent Center City attorney. He left a successful computer engineering career to become a lawyer because he believed that as an attorney he could more effectively advance the cause of social justice. He was proud of his early work with Community Legal Services. A skillful trial attorney, he was tenacious and ingenious, frequently challenging long-held notions that excluded minorities and women. He was for the underdog and dedicated much of his legal career to numerous causes, including the environment, civil rights, workers’ rights, abolition of the death penalty, and the advancement of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. He had great intellectual breadth, matched by tremendous energy. He was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Ash ran for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office in 1969 as the Consumer Party candidate. He ran again in 2001 as the Green Party candidate. His campaign message was, “For the people to respect the law, the law must respect the people.” He relished the opportunity to bring important, albeit at times unpopular, issues into the public discourse. He favored re-examining drug enforcement laws and abolishing the death penalty.

Ash grew up in Mount Airy. After graduating from Central High School in 1944 at age 17, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving in World War II. He was an officer in the naval reserves for many years.

He was active in protesting the Vietnam War, marching in Philadelphia and Washington. He was a Eugene McCarthy delegate to the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968.

Before enrolling in law school, he earned several degrees in engineering and mathematics. He worked in the early development of computers, directly under Dr. Grace Hopper, the co-inventor of COBOL, with the Sperry Corporation. In those days, Sperry’s computer, UNIVAC, was another word for computer, as XEROX meant copier. Dr. Hopper computerized the Navy and became the first woman admiral, and Ash was always proud of his work with her.

Richard A. Ash died at the age of 75 in February, 2002, from complications after treatment for leukemia. He left a bequest establishing this fund, which provides scholarships to needy Philadelphians who could not otherwise afford to go to college.

Ash believed in preserving the values of our Constitution and those traditions that sprung from our better nature. Kind to his friends, generous to the less fortunate, he was part of the action and passion of his City and his time.

The deadline for all applications is April 14, 2014.

Download the Application [PDF, 296KB]

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