Women’s History and Culture Center

Spotlights Mary Lou Ashe, a Champion Volunteer! 

Volunteers are the engine of all non-profit organizations. Mary Lou Ashe is a Champion Volunteer of the Women’s History and Culture Center. Her level of dedication to  WHCC makes her a valuable partner. She has earned the title of Champion Volunteer. 

Mary Lou began volunteering at WHCC in 2018. Her life experiences were a gift to this new  center that Jean Watkins was setting up. Mary Lou recalls being inspired by a high school  geometry teacher who wore his military uniform to school on military holidays and talked  about his pride of service and patriotism. She absorbed that it’s not what you have that is  important. Instead, it is what you give and receive that you treasure. Since that time, Mary Lou  has continued to make herself invaluable at WHCC as a greeter, a helper in many events,  maintaining the cleanliness of the Center, and hosting her own group there as well. An avid  reader, she reads books in the well-stocked Center library. Those books inspired Mary Lou to  write a book and begin the Writers Group that meets regularly at WHCC. She considers WHCC  to be one of the treasures of her life. 

During a recent interview with Mary Lou, I asked what she noticed first about WHCC. Her  response was that every individual she met at WHCC was there to support and give. “I think  sometimes all a person needs to feel is needed. When someone asks you to volunteer, what  they are really saying is, we welcome and need you to be a part of us.” 

Who is Mary Lou Ashe? At 18 Mary Lou joined the Marines. While in boot camp, she was  assigned to a lifeguard team. She was already certified as a swimming instructor. What they  didn’t know is that she had been a synchronized swimmer for years. The breath control she  gained as a synchronized swimmer helped Mary Lou to win challenges over her male  teammates. These challenges were meant to get the two women on the team to cry “uncle”  and disqualify them from the team. Mary Lou turned the game on them. As a result of her  performance there, she earned the respect of the men, along with the nickname, “Dirty Mary”.  During her career as a Marine, as in the rest of her life, Mary Lou has learned the value of  tenacity and teamwork. She is the mother of two, grandmother to seven, and great grandmother to 19. 

Mary Lou shared, “Each one of us has the power to create our own heaven or hell on this earth.  Happiness comes from within. A challenge has to be felt from inside for us to be successful.”



As a Veteran, Mary Lou continues to serve. In addition to her work at WHCC, Mary Lou gives to  the broader community when she sees a need. She serves on the Honor Guard. An avid walker,  she picks up trash and dog waste on the street whenever she sees it because “I don’t want a  visitor to see it.” When asked what drives her, she replied, “Leave the world better, be proud  of where you are. Where we are is now – live in the now. Don’t say you’ll do it tomorrow – do it  today.” 

At the end of our interview, Mary Lou shared her favorite Oscar Wilde quote:  

Don’t try to be somebody else. You have to be yourself at all times. Be  yourself. The world worships the original.  

Thank you, Mary Lou Ashe, for being part of the WHCC AND the Greater Mesquite community! 














WHCC builds on women’s historical  

achievements to light the way for future  

generations by providing resources,  

opportunities, and activities that make a  

difference in the greater Mesquite community.  

For more information, visit whccmesquitenv.org