Longtime injection molding sales executive Don Ashleigh died Jan. 2 from COVID-19 complications. He was 80.
Ashleigh, whose first name was Frank but went by Don, worked for injection molder Universal Plastic Mold Inc. of Baldwin Park, Calif., for more than 50 years, serving most of that time as vice president of sales. Ashleigh was a part-owner of the firm.
Ashleigh worked for Shell Chemical in the 1960s before meeting UPM owner Ray Dowling and being offered a job there in 1970, according to Jeff Lawrence, an official with industry group Western Plastics Pioneers. Lawrence added that Ashleigh was involved with the Society of Plastics Engineers and the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., now called the Plastics Industry Association, for many years.
Ashleigh "became a permanent fixture at UPM for over 50 years," Lawrence said in an email. "What an accomplishment in today's plastics field!"
Current UPM President Jason Dowling, Ray's son, said that Ashleigh still was handling some accounts for the firm. Ashleigh was doing so "not because he needed to, but he loved working with people and working on projects. ... He was really liked by all of his customers."
In a statement, Joe LaFountain, owner of material supplier Joe's Plastics in Los Angeles, said that Ashleigh "was a great salesman in the plastics industry. ... He was a very smart, successful businessman."
"True greatness is measured not by fortune and fame, but by love and friendship," he added. "Don had true greatness. He was full of life. He was a great friend to many people. He loved and helped many friends."
Ashleigh was preceded in death by his wife Linda. He's survived by five children, eleven grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren, as well as by his brother Dave and sister Kathie. Ashleigh's son Mike is a sales account manager at UPM.
An obituary for Ashleigh in the Orange County Register said that "Big D" — as he was referred to by his closest friends — "was always the life of the party and loved nothing more than to share a new joke or tell a good story, sing along to a country western tune, watch a football game, or attend his weekly 'board meetings' with his buddies."
"Don was full of charisma, a true kid at heart, had the most generous and infectious spirit, an insatiable gift for gab, and lived life to the fullest extent possible."