Clare Austin Ash, Jr.

Clare Austin Ash, Jr. (98) peacefully passed away on November 27, 2023, at 5:45 p.m. with his boys at his side.
Clare was born June 12, 1925, in Lansing, Michigan to Clare Ash and Thelma (Root) Ash. He grew up on the family farm in Chester attending country school and then Charlotte High School graduating with the class of 1943. After high school he attended Michigan Agricultural College (MSU) in the 2-year agricultural short course program.

On January 1, 1946 he married the love of his life, Shirley Tellas, and they began a life together, raising three sons, Dennis, Mark and Steve. Clare was destined to become a farmer and it was his passion. Together with his family, he built a large farming operation that continued until his retirement in 1994.

Clare served on many boards and was active in local Farm Bureau, FHA, MABC, 4-H, and Masonic Lodge in his younger days. After retirement he began restoring antique farm tractors. He was not color specific as he had John Deere, Minneapolis Moline, Oliver, Silver King, Massey Harris, and Farmall in his collection.

He made many friends and contacts in the agricultural business whether it be in the cattle, hog or seed business. He was not only a seed corn dealer for Pioneer, Funks and Golden Harvest, the family also grew Foundation, Certified and Breeder classifications of Red Kidney Bean and Barley seed from the crops grown and processed on their farm. Clare was also instrumental in selling calves through video sales at Michigan Livestock Exchange, something new in that day.
In addition to his love of farming, he had a strong love of family. He and Shirley were married until her passing in 2016 and worked side by side in the farming operations. Their sons also were involved in the farm and all three followed in Clare’s footsteps attending Michigan State University in the agriculture programs.

Clare is survived by his brother, Roger; sons Dennis (Danette), Mark (Judy), and Steve (Judy); and grandchildren, Mike, Austin, Adrienne, Matt, JoAnne, Joe, Steve Jr. and Christopher; along with 14 great-grandchildren. Preceding him in death are his wife, Shirley; his parents, Clare and Thelma; sister-in-law, Mary; and granddaughter, Kristen.

Friends are encouraged to support Clare’s family by attending services or sharing memories on his Tribute Page at Visitation will be held on Monday, December 4, 2023, from 3-5:00 p.m. and 7-9:00 p.m. at Pray Funeral Home in Charlotte. Funeral Services will be on Tuesday, December 5, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. at Pray Funeral Home with Laura Cooper officiating. Interment will take place at Gresham Cemetery. The funeral will be webcast so you may watch it from any computer, smartphone, or mobile device that has internet access. Go to, click on Clare’s tribute, then click on Photos and Videos from your computer (or Media from your smart phone). If desired, the family suggests memorial contributions to the Gresham United Methodist Church. The family is in the care of Pray Funeral Home, Charlotte.