Marvin Jeremy Ashton, the third child of Marvin O. and Rachel Jeremy Ashton, was born May 6, 1915, in Salt Lake City. His father, who was later called as first counselor to Presiding Bishop LeGrand Richards in 1938, operated a hardware and lumber dealership. The family lived in the then-rural Parley's area, and their children were taught to work in a large garden at their home.
The Ashton children traveled several miles to the nearest grade school.After graduating from South High School in Salt Lake City, young Marvin attended the University of Utah, where he graduated with a degree in business. Following his graduation, he spent a year earning $720 to pay for his two-year mission to the British Isles. On his mission from 1937-39, he and other missionaries sang and played competitive basketball to help the Church become better known. He was captain of a missionary team that eventually won the all-Europe championship in Lille, France. He also became supervising elder in the mission office under Pres. Hugh B. Brown, who later served in the Council of the Twelve and the First Presidency. In addition, the young elder edited the Millennial Star.
Upon his return to Salt Lake City, he courted Norma Bernston and they were married in the Salt Lake Temple. One of their common interests was tennis, a sport in which they both excelled. In 1954, they won the Church's tennis tournament in the mixed doubles division.
During the following years, they became parents of two boys and two girls, M. John, Stephen K., Jonne and Janice.
He was also active in local affairs and in 1957 served two terms in the Utah State Senate. During this time, he spearheaded efforts to provide improved juvenile detention facilities.
In 1948, he was called to the general board of the YMMIA. During this time, he gained more awareness of the needs and challenges of youth, and became a particular champion of those with special challenges. When he was called in 1969 as Assistant to the Twelve, he was asked to combine the Church's Social Services programs. In this capacity he developed a deep empathy for and made contributions to those involved in serious problems.
He was called to the Council of the Twelve in December 1971, filling the vacancy following the death of Elder Richard L. Evans. As a member of the Council of the Twelve, he continued to be a champion of improving human relationships between all people. During his years on the Council of the Twelve, he served as chairman of the ZCMI, Deseret Book and Polynesian Cultural Center boards, and many committees at Church headquarters.
Elder Ashton received honorary doctorates from the University of Utah and BYU, and served on the Utah Board of Regents.
Highlights in the life of Elder Marvin J. Ashton
May 6, 1915 - Born in Salt Lake City to Marvin O. and Rachel Grace Jeremy Ashton.
1936 - Graduated from the University of Utah School of Business.
1937-39 - Served a mission to Great Britain.
Aug. 22, 1940 - Married Norma Berntson in the Salt Lake Temple.
1948 - Called to YMMIA General Board.
1957-61 - Served in the Utah Senate.
Dec. 6, 1958 - Became second assistant in the YMMIA.
June 9, 1961 - Became first assistant in the YMMIA.
September 1969 - Named managing director of the Church Social Services Department.
Oct. 3, 1969 - Sustained as an Assistant to the Twelve.
Dec. 2, 1971 - Ordained an apostle.
April 6, 1972 - Sustained in general conference as a member of the Council of the Twelve.
July 1984 - Appointed to the state Board of Regents.
Feb. 25, 1994 - Died in Salt Lake City at age 78.