Ashley Jean O'Rear

April 27, 1987 - November 24, 2001

Buried in Mountain Peak Cemetery
Ellis County, Texas

Her absence hurts so much because
her presence brought so much joy.

Mountain Peak Cemetery is a peaceful little country cemetery about ten miles outside of Waxahachie, Texas.

To reach the cemetery from downtown Waxahachie, travel west on Main Street (Highway 287 Business), heading toward I-35 and Midlothian. A couple of miles after passing under the I-35 underpass, turn left onto F.M. 875 and drive for about eight miles. Just past the little Hopewell Baptist Church, the Mountain Peak Cemetery is on the left.

Click on any picture below to see it enlarged

After Ashley was buried, most of the flowers from the funeral were placed on her grave. They created quite a large and colorful mound, a very fitting tribute to such a bright and beautiful young lady.
Prior to the placement of the permanent headstone at Ashley's grave, this simple funeral home grave marker designated the site of her burial place.
Below are a couple of wide-view pictures of Mountain Peak Cemetery with Ashley's headstone in the center of the picture. These views show the beauty and peacefulness of this little country cemetery.
Below are two pictures of the headstone marking Ashley's grave, the one on the left showing the front of the headstone, the one on the right showing the back. The headstone was designed by Susan and me, and was created by our friend Perry Giles of Giles Monument Company in Waxahachie. The South Ellis County 4-H Club, of which Ashley was a member, raised the money to pay for the headstone, a project conceived by Ashley's fellow 4-H members.
Below are close-ups of some of the design elements of Ashley's headstone, along with explanations as to why these particular design elements were chosen.
Ashley's Portrait. This portrait was hand-etched into the black headstone by an artist who specializes in this type of work. We wanted to have Ashley's picture on the stone to make it very personal and special. The etching was done from the black-and-white professional headshot which has become one of the two "defining" images of Ashley -- the other being the purple sunglasses picture taken just a few months prior to her initial cancer diagnosis.
Note: The following pictures are not clickable.

Epitaph: "Her absence hurts so much because her presence brought so much joy." I originally coined this phrase (with the word "his" in the place of "her") in an attempt to describe the pain and sense of loss I was experiencing when my father died of cancer in 1989. When Ashley died, this phrase came back to me and seemed to be a very appropriate expression of our grief at her death. Susan and I felt it would make a fitting epitaph for her headstone.
Single long-stemmed rose. The rose represents the rose from the classic tale "Beauty and the Beast". For some reason, Ashley became especially fond of this story. We own the Disney animated version on video. Ashley saw the Disney Broadway play twice, the second time with our whole family just three weeks prior to her death. After watching the play, Justin bought Ashley a souvenir rose from the gift shop at the theater. I mounted that rose above the door to her room when we arrived back home.
College Street Church of Christ Youth Group Logo. I am the youth minister for the College Street church, so Ashley and Justin have been around the youth group and participated in youth group activities for most of their lives. Ashley had been a member of the youth group for two-and-a-half years prior to her death. Ashley always had a deep love for the Lord and His church, and was baptized into Christ just two weeks prior to her death.
4-H Logo. Ashley had been a member of the South Ellis County 4-H Club for four years, and was an active member at the time of her death. Ashley's friend Kaysi Mulkey got Ashley involved in 4-H shortly after Ashley was initially diagnosed with cancer, as a way to help provide a diversion from all the yucky aspects of dealing with cancer. Ashley began raising and showing pigs for her 4-H project, and absolutely loved it. 4-H became a huge and important part of her life. As mentioned above, it was her fellow 4-H club members who came up with the idea to raise the necessary funds to provide the headstone for Ashley's grave. We are forever indebted to this wonderful group of incredible and talented young people.
Future Farmers of America (FFA) Logo. When Ashley entered Waxahachie High School just a few months prior to her death, she joined FFA. It was a natural transition from 4-H membership, because the two organizations uphold many of the same values and participate in many of the same types of activities. A few weeks before Ashley's death, three of the Waxahachie High School FFA officers came to our house to deliver Ashley's FFA jacket, which had been rush-ordered so that it could be presented to her as soon as possible. She cherished that jacket, and we displayed it at her funeral. The FFA officers served as pallbearers at Ashley's funeral, all wearing their FFA jackets.
"I Love New York" Logo. Ashley loved New York. She had traveled there twice, during the summers of 2000 and 2001, with a group of students and teachers from Waxahachie Junior High School. It was during one of those trips that she first saw the Broadway production of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast". After her cancer relapse, when a wonderful benefactor named Mr. Harper offered Ashley the opportunity for our family to travel anywhere she wanted to go, it didn't take her long to decide on New York. Three weeks prior to Ashley's death, our family flew first class to New York City, and spent four incredible days in The Big Apple. We created many unforgettable memories on that trip that will forever live in our hearts. We have all come to love New York.
Drama symbol. Ashley loved drama. She was involved in One-Act Play in junior high, and was looking forward to participating in One-Act Play in high school as well. As already mentioned, she enjoyed the opportunity to watch Broadway plays in New York on three different occasions. The professional headshot which has become her "signature portrait", was the result of an attempt to "break into" professional acting. Drama and acting were truly one of her passions.
Music symbol. Ashley loved music. She loved to listen to music; she loved to sing music. She grew up singing church songs and "youth group" songs. She was a member of the Waxahachie Junior High School choir, and took piano lessons for a couple of years.
Camp Esperanza Logo. Camp Esperanza is a "cancer camp" that Ashley attended during the summers of 2000 and 2001. She really enjoyed her two summers at Camp Esperanza, and made a lot of new friends there. At each of the two sessions that Ashley attended, each camper received a pillow case with the camp logo printed on it. Throughout the week, campers would sign each other's pillow cases, and those pillow cases became a cherished keepsake. During Ashley's last few month's of life, she had her camp pillow with her constantly. She slept on it and used it as a cushion in her wheelchair. Camp Esperanza made a big difference in Ashley's life. Esperanza is the Spanish word for "hope".

As you look at each of the above pictures, I hope you notice the incredible craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into the creation of Ashley's headstone. We are forever and deeply indebted to our dear friend Perry Giles for his loving personal touch and hard work in creating this beautiful memorial. Perry went above and beyond the call of duty, and did everything within his power to make sure that Ashley's headstone was a fitting memorial to her incredible life, and that it looked exactly like we wanted it to look (even though the design and the amount of intricate artwork went far beyond what goes into most headstones).

Thank you, Perry, for caring so much and working so hard to make this lasting memorial to our precious little girl so very special. You are an incredibly gifted man, and that gift has touched our lives deeply and permanently.

Ashley's Memorial Web Page