A symbol of enduring courage, dignity and strength on par with her late husband Barry, Donna Ashbee (nee Dixon) was a beloved member of the extended Philadelphia Flyers family for 50 years. Donna passed away suddenly at age 82 on May 31, 2021. For most of her adult life, she resided in the Philadelphia suburbs.
Both before and after Barry’s cancer-related passing on May 12, 1977, Donna was a beloved source of emotional support and strength not only to her children Danny and Heather but to other Flyers wives and to members of the organization as a whole. Flyers wives of several generations looked up to her for guidance and leadership as the annual Flyers Wives Carnival was devoted to Barry’s enduring memory and, for many years, raised money specifically for leukemia research and treatment.
Throughout her life, from the time of Barry’s acquisition in 1970 until her own passing, Donna Ashbee and her children remained close to the Flyers organization. When the organization held its 50th anniversary celebration in 2016-17, Donna stood in Barry’s place among the iconic figures honored on Hall of Fame Night. To this day, son Danny typically presents the Barry Ashbee Trophy to the winner of the annual team award for the team’s best defenseman.
On June 2, the Flyers organization released an official statement on Donna’s passing: “The Flyers are saddened to hear of the passing of Donna Ashbee, the late wife of Barry Ashbee, Flyers Hall of Fame defenseman and one of six Flyers to have their number retired by the organization. Donna exemplified what it meant for the Philadelphia Flyers to be a true family and was a driving force in helping form the Flyers Wives Carnival. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their children, Dan and Heather, and the entire Ashbee family.”
Flyers Hall of Fame defenseman Joe Watson, who knew Barry and Donna from both the Boston Bruins and Flyers organizations, echoed the sentiments of generations of Flyers Alumni in his fond personal recollections of Donna.
“Donna was always interested in how you and your family were, and never about herself. Just like Barry was on the ice, she was a quiet leader behind the scenes in the Flyers family. She was instrumental in the success of making the Flyers Wives Fight for Lives Carnival an annual event. She was just a lovely person: a great mom to Danny and Heather and a good friend to us all. She loved the Flyers and she always represented Barry’s legacy with pride. We’re all going to miss her,” Watson said.