OBITUARY: Jeanne Chesley Ashworth, 80

WILMINGTON, NY — Jeanne Chesley Ashworth died at her home in Wilmington on October 4 three years after a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Her partner of 25 years, Christine LeFevre and her dog Wriggly were at her side.

She was born on July 1, 1938 in Burlington, Vt. to the late Raymond and Alberta Black Ashworth.

Shortly after her birth her parents returned to Massachusetts and settled in Wilmington, near Boston, where here two sisters Jacqueline Peters and Deborah Pena, deceased, were born.

In addition to her sister Jackie of Wilmington, N.Y. Jeanne is survived by her daughter Kristen Robin Ashworth, two grandsons, and four nieces and nephews,

Jeanne graduated from Wilmington, Ma. High School and Tufts University in Medford, Ma.

She competed in three Olympics in speed skating. She was the first American to win a speed skating medal after the sport was reintroduced at the 1960 Squaw Valley competition. She took the bronze. She also competed in Innsbruck, Austria and Grenoble France in 1964 and 1968.

After the birth of her daughter in 1970 she bought a homestead in Wilmington N.Y. where she planned to create a self-sustaining farm including goats, pigs and chickens. But she found it to painful to nurture and then kill her animals for food.

She left animal husbandry and made her living as Santa’s candy maker at the North Pole. She also coached Pee Wee speed skating in North Elba.

She was part of the 1980 Olympic Committee and one of the dignitaries chosen to fly to Greece to witness the lighting of the 1980 Olympic Flame and to return with it on Air Force One to the U.S.

In 1999 she was elected Supervisor of the Town of Wilmington and served her Town from 2000 through 2007.

She was a skilled woodworker,a gifted athlete, competitive at softball, and cross-country skiing and an all-around outdoorswoman.

In addition to family she is survived by a devoted circle of friends.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her name are welcome at North Country Public Radio or the Winter Sports Museum in Lake Placid.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the Heald Funeral Home, 7521 Court Street, Elizabethtown.

To light a memorial candle or leave an online condolence please visit

(NOTE: The above obituary is from Heald Funeral Home.)

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