‘Caring, sweet and always gracious’

Remembering Daphne Ashworth

“It was always Daphne and Ralph or Ralph and Daphne in whatever we did,” says Ralph Ashworth. The couple is pictured in downtown Cary, in front of Ashworth Drugs in 2011. Daphne passed away on Friday, Jan. 19.

Daphne Ashworth, businesswoman and tireless volunteer, will be remembered for her patience, her countless contributions to the Cary community, and her lifelong partnership with her husband Ralph.

The former Cary Magazine Woman of Western Wake died Friday, Jan. 19, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease.

“She was very caring, sweet, always ready to greet somebody and always gracious,” said Ralph.

“It was always Daphne and Ralph or Ralph and Daphne in whatever we did,” he said. “She was my right arm. I could start something and she’d finish it. Whatever I was going to do or should do, she encouraged me to go through with it. We encouraged each other to get these things done.

“We’ve always been a team.”

In 1957, the Ashworths bought what was then the Adams pharmacy in downtown Cary, staking their future on the growing Western Wake community. Ashworth Drugs and the nearby Ashworth Village are now Cary landmarks.

“She always had more patience than I did,” said Ralph. “She would always be pleasant and never got upset the way I could get. Sometimes I’m a little feisty, but Daphne never got feisty.”

Her patience was helpful on the business side too. Soon after the couple opened Ashworth Drugs, Daphne wanted to open a Hallmark store, but she was told Cary wasn’t big enough to support a card store. She kept asking.

In 1969, the Ashworths opened their first Lynn’s Hallmark store in Kinston, N.C. Business was tough there, and Daphne feared they had made a mistake. Hearing that a new mall was opening in Chapel Hill, they decided to “give it one more try” and opened another store in University Mall. This second store was more successful, and eventually the Kinston store turned around.

“We were told Cary would never support a card shop,” Ralph said. “But at one time we had five (in Cary alone).”

Today their son Gary and grandsons Scott and Chris manage the family-owned Lynn’s and Daphne’s Hallmark stores. Son Paul runs Ashworth Drugs.

A lifelong volunteer, Daphne belonged to the Cary Women’s Club, the Cary Jaycettes, the Hallmark Cards National Advisory Board, the Wake Med Foundation board, the Cary Chamber of Commerce, and the NC Pharmacy Ladies Auxiliary Board. She was also a founding member of the Cary Library and the Heart of Cary Association. She was also a longtime supporter of Dorcas Ministries and the YMCA of the Triangle.

“We are proud that Cary has developed into the community it is,” said Ralph. “When we came, there was nothing in Cary — no hospital, no YMCA, no Chamber, no library. All these things have come while we’ve been here, and we had a hand in all those things.”

As a founding member of Cary Visual Art, Daphne was especially proud of the group’s impact on people’s everyday lives.

“Cary Visual Art is a grassroots effort that is bringing aesthetic excellence to Cary,” Daphne said in a 2005 interview. “It helps set Cary apart, and the art really improves people’s surroundings.”

Her love of community and her desire to make Cary a better place for everyone can be seen in her accomplishments.

“Cary is really very accepting of newcomers,” Daphne said. “They were very accepting of us. It is just a very special place.”

The family requests memorial gifts be sent to Dorcas Ministries, 187 High House Road, Cary 27511, or Transitions Life Care (Hospice), 250 Hospice Circle, Raleigh, NC 27607.

4 Comments

  • Lois Nixon says:

    I chuckle to see Daphne’s quote, “Cary is really very accepting of newcomers,” Daphne said. “They were very accepting of us.” I’ve lived here for 38 years, but I consider Daphne and Ralph to be “originals” and “legends”…just the best! And all of Cary benefits!

  • Erin Simile says:

    Didn’t know her, but she sounds like a beautiful person! After shopping at Lynn’s and Daphne’s Hallmark shops for years, it means even more knowing she was behind it all. The Cary community has lost a treasure.

  • Will says:

    Daphne was a very special lady, kind, engaging and delightful to be with.

  • Melfeta Muratovic says:

    As a newcomer to Cary and the Taylor Family YMCA, this tribute to this wonderful woman makes me feel really good to be here. What a blessing.

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