|Ashley T. Law was born on October 9, 1894. His parents James Henry and Margaret Powell Law raised him on a cotton plantation near Benoit, Mississippi. Early in life they recognized that he had unusual artistic ability. He attended the Corcoran School of Art In Washington, D.C. At this institution he was awarded the Corcoran Bronze Medal for his art. In 1913 he entered the Philadelphia Academy of Art. He graduated in 1915, leading the senior portrait class.
On graduation he set up and maintained an art studio in New York City and was becoming well known in the art world. When World War I broke out, even though he had no military aspirations, he immediately joined the 2nd Regiment of the Mississippi National Guard, which later became a part of the Army’s 9th Division in Europe. During training exercises he contracted spinal meningitis and was given up for dead by the doctors. But he recovered. While on occupation duty in Germany, he received a letter that ordered him to report for ‘‘art duty’’ at the Army Expeditionary Forces Art Center in Paris. He studied under the noted portrait painter, Angel Zarraga, who chose one of Ashley’s paintings as the best in the AEF Center. This painting of a French girl was appropriate for inclusion in a war relics exhibition. It currently hangs in the Pentagon.
Reverend Law began preparing for the ministry in Chicago. He soon returned to Mississippi, but following the leading of his inner voice he went to California and entered the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. Four year later, he graduated. He was ordained Elder in the Methodist Church in 1929, after having attended Southern Methodist University. Ashley returned to Mississippi and served as an associate minister at Starkville Methodist Church. After two years, he prayed for a church of his own with a furnished parsonage, a salary of $1000 and a wife. Three weeks later received a letter offering him the pastorate at the Methodist Church in Cotton Valley, Louisiana. The Church paid $1000 a year and had a furnished parsonage. Within weeks of moving to Cotton Valley he met Ruby Camp and they were married seven months later. What an answer to prayer! They raised five children: Ruth, Mary, Sarah, James and Paul.
Later Reverend Law served Felicity in New Orleans, Ponchatoula, Amite, Pineville, Welsh, Parker Memorial (New Orleans), Greenwood and Plain Dealing. He was responsible for the new church building in Welsh. He retired in 1960 and moved to Alexander, Virginia. His calling card read, ‘‘Ashley T. Law, Minister Artist.’’ He reflects on these years, ‘‘The latter part of my life is being devoted more to fine art than to the ministry; though, I still do quite a bit of preaching and teaching in Bible classes.’’
Reverend Law has painted portraits of several great and near-great persons. Among these are Earl T. Hotalen, LMCF Director for many years, Oral Roberts, Bishop Aubry Walton of the Louisiana Annual Conference, Bishop John Wesley Shungo of the Congo Africa Conference, Mr. and Mrs. Demos Shakarian, President of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship. The most famous persons he painted were President and Mrs. Gerald Ford. He had the pleasure of presenting this painting to President Ford in the Oval Room at the White House. He commented, ‘‘It’s a long way from the cotton fields to the White House.”
Ashley moved to Shreveport in 1969, where he lived until his death on January 26, 1985. His beautiful Ruby preceeded him in death in 1979. He summed up his own life and ministry very well, ‘‘All I do is for the glory of God. I am an ordinary man except for what God has given me. It is for His glory, not mine.’’
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, 1985; p. 251-252 By James L. Adams|