It is with great sadness that we wish to inform you that Dr. Steve Ash passed away on Sunday, October 10th. He was a distinguished scholar of the Civil War, a devoted mentor to many of our graduate students, an award-winning teacher, and a valued colleague in the department for many decades.
Dr. Ash was among the department’s most popular and successful teachers, recognized with campus awards, including the UT Alexander Prize for Distinguished Research and Teaching, and the college’s Lorayne Lester Award for Faculty Excellence. He guided twelve graduate students to completion of the PhD, and an equal number to the MA. Among his students and colleagues, he was legendary for his keen editorial eye, improving dissertations and manuscripts with his thoughtful reading, incisive corrections, and generous encouragement.
Steve earned his doctorate from the UT History Department in 1983, and began teaching as an assistant professor in 1990. Always restless between writing projects, he produced many fine works on the history of the Civil War, African-American history, and the history of Tennessee. These include A Year in the South: Four Lives in 1865; Firebrands of Liberty: The Story of Two Black Regiments in the Civil War; A Massacre in Memphis: The Race Riot that Shook the Nation One Year After the Civil War; and most recently, Rebel Richmond: Life and Death in the Confederate Capital (2019). All of his work was notable for his ability to combine deep archival research with a graceful narrative style.
No summary of Steve Ash’s many accomplishments as a teacher and scholar can convey his value as a colleague. He was a generous mentor and friend, dedicated to the historian’s craft and devoted to the success of his students.