Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Ashley Harrison


In the midst of the tragedy that is death, pain is often recognized first and foremost. This pain has the power to cloud even the best memories, but when the fog clears, memories and love conquer, and the beauty that was a person’s life resurfaces.

Ashley Therese Perret Harrison was a loving daughter, a dedicated student, an athlete, a hardheaded pursuer and a faithful, strong woman who didn’t accept or acknowledge the possibility of failure. Although she suffered a heartbreaking death at the hands of the April 27 tornado, a victim was not a trait or characteristic Ashley would have wished upon herself.

“From the moment she was born, she held her head up and looked at the world,” said Harrison’s parents, Darlene and Dave. “No matter what the obstacle, she had the faith she would overcome the issue as it was meant to be. She was relentless in her mission to make the most of everything she did.

“It was not uncommon for Ashley to juggle and succeed with school, sports, family, dating, friends, jobs, sorority, shopping, playing and exercising with her beloved puppy, Ms. B, and traveling in just a week, while planning for the next weeks and months, so everyone else knew what they were going to do as well.”

Family, friends and acquaintances adored Harrison. Her infectious smile, desire for a great life and her dedication to her loved ones inspired and encouraged those close to her.

“Ashley was a young woman of excellence,” said Debbie Tinker, mother of Crimson Tide long snapper Carson Tinker. “When you were around Ashley, you were challenged to be the best you that you could be. [Ashley] never made you feel bad about who you were, but her drive to be the very best at whatever she did made you feel that you could accomplish your best, as well.”

Tinker, whose son Carson was Harrison’s boyfriend and the love of her life, explained that Harrison was a dream come true.

“Ashley was the girl you wish you could look like, the personality you wish you had, the character you would aspire to possess, the confidence that would illuminate an entire room, the vulnerability of a little girl, the tenacity of someone who did not know how to quit, the drive for excellence that would take you to the top, the uncanny ability to expose anyone who was less than genuine, and the girl every mother wishes their son would bring home,” Tinker said.

In addition to her Phi Mu sorority sisters, childhood friends and loving family, Harrison touched many lives throughout the UA community.

“Ashley was extremely vivacious,” said Stewart Freeman, her roommate and friend. “She was strong but poised, stylish and graceful. She was literally the girl every girl wants to hate but can’t. By this I mean she was drop-dead beautiful, so she makes every girl jealous, but she was so nice that you had to love her.”

Nearly everyone who knew her knew she was destined to take all of her skills and talents to make the world a better place.

“Ashley loved to help others,” said friend Erin Murphy. “Whether it was sticking up for her friends, notes for people in class or helping someone study, she just wanted to see everyone succeed. Ashley stood up for her friends, even if she knew you were wrong. And she never liked to lose an argument. She was an excellent debater, knew how to craft words and form an argument to the point that it was almost impossible to argue with her. She wanted to use that talent to help others, and being a lawyer was her way to do that. Ashley would have been awesome.”

Prior to her time at the University of Alabama, Harrison had already begun to make her mark on the world. She enjoyed many years of gymnastics, Girl Scouts, dancing, performing in the Russian Nutcracker Ballet, and playing club and school volleyball and lacrosse. She gained a position for two years with the Texas National Lacrosse Team, worked with several charities since first grade, and was a success in her jobs. She would not settle for being average and letting life pass her by.

“Everyone could see she enjoyed challenges. She loved to get her way and law school was perfect for her,” the Harrisons said. “She settled on a difficult major in economics. Her professors said she was not only a gifted, bright person but also a beautiful, well-rounded student who was not afraid to challenge even them. This year, she had studied and tutored others for the LSAT, became a leader with Delta Sigma Pi and obtained an internship with UBS in Washington, D.C.”

Although she was eager to succeed and focused so much on her schoolwork, Harrison was about more than studying and long nights at the library.

“Ashley was always a kid at heart,” said her uncle Marion Perret, who searched for Harrison all night after the tornado. “She believed in miracles, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, French Little Christmas – The Epiphany, where in our home, you celebrated with the gifts of the Magi, too. No matter how old you were, you had to believe to have a full holiday.”

While maintaining a strong faith, work ethic and passion for life, Harrison was able to go above and beyond for the people she loved.

“Ashley Harrison was always there for the people who knew her; she embodied what it meant to be a true friend,” said James Schanzer, a lifelong friend. “One stark, extraordinary and remarkable quality of Ashley’s was that you always knew where you stood with her. There was never a moment where she wasn’t genuine and, just as often, blunt, depending on the occasion. In this regard, Ashley was always honest with you, she never avoided telling her friends what she thought was wrong or right and always had their best interests at heart.”

Schanzer said Harrison had truly impacted his life and would continue to influence him in the years to come.  “My last moments with Ash, ironically midday April 27, were possibly the most cherished,” Schanzer said. “Ashley and I hadn’t spoken in months, and I had just informed her I was to have a little girl. Today, Ashley is her namesake and her guardian angel, as my daughter was born nine months to the day from Ashley’s birthdate.

“For me, Ashley and I continue to grow together as she watches over my family and me.  I hope my little girl becomes the boisterous, witty, fun-loving and beautiful, full-of-life sweetheart that Ashley was.”

Scholarships were established to continue the legacy of Ashley Harrison helping others. Contributions can be directed to Ashley Harrison Memorial Scholarship and sent to P.O. Box 180098, Dallas, TX 75218. This year donations can also be made to Sigma Chi Derby Days, who are focusing their philanthropic efforts to Ashley’s scholarships as well.

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