Colonel (retired) John C. Dashiell

Published 12:42 pm Monday, June 5, 2017

Colonel (retired) John C. Dashiell, 90, died peacefully on May 31, 2017 in Smithfield, following a brief battle with cancer. Family surrounded him at the time of his death.   

     Jack, who had deep roots in Isle of Wight County, was born at the Moonefield farmhouse on March 18, 1927, son of Harry G. Dashiell and Segar Jordan Cofer Dashiell.  He was the grandson of Thomas Lafayette Dashiell, Mary Ann Oneida Holloway, John I. Cofer and Mary “Mollie” Jordan.  He and his older brother Harry Jr. grew up happily pursuing the activities familiar to boys of their generation — hunting, fishing, and playing sports.

     Jack (Smithfield High School Class of 1944) wanted to serve his country in World War II so he finished his final year at Augusta Military Academy before attending Virginia Polytechnic Institute and entering the Army as a private in 1945.  Following Officer Candidate School 2nd Lt. Dashiell spent a year in postwar Germany before returning home and earning a Bachelor in fine arts from The College of William & Mary in 1950.

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      It was there that he met Dorothy Jean “Dot” Smith, a San Diego, Calif.-born co-ed (William & Mary Class of 1953). They married in May 1951, six months after his recall to active duty, and raised five children while stationed at numerous posts around the States and in Europe.     

     Jack’s Army career included both peacetime assignments and combat tours. He was wounded leading an infantry company assault on Pork Chop Hill in July 1953 (Purple Heart and Combat Infantryman Badge), and later commanded an Air Cavalry Battalion in Vietnam in 1966-67 (two Silver Stars).  He also commanded a stateside Brigade (1972-73); served as the Senior U.S. Military Observer Palestine (1974-75); and completed his service in Heidelberg, Germany, which was a highlight for the family. 

     Following military retirement in 1980, Jack returned to his artisan roots as a wildfowl carver in Alexandria. His calling card was “Ducks by Dashiell” and his meticulous original work earned multiple prizes in competitions from Stone Harbor, N.J. to Charleston, S.C.  Jack and Dot moved to Smithfield in 1995 and resided in a home overlooking the Pagan on what was once the farmland owned by his parents. In 2001, Dot died following 50 years of happy marriage. 

     He later formed a long and happy relationship with Marilyn Conklin Brugh.  They had an active social life together enjoying traveling, dining and the arts.

      Jack is survived by children, John Jr., (Ursula) of Seattle, Wash.; Nancy Dashiell Brandon (Ron) of Eye, England; Andrew of Denver, Colo.; Paul (Judy) of Williamsburg; and Dorothy Dashiell Benson (Mark) of Leesburg. He also leaves 10 grandchildren, Thomas Dashiell (Kate), Helen Dashiell (Dave Wiard), Langley Dashiell Haick (Matt), James Brandon, Mary Dashiell, Hayley Dashiell, Madeleine Dashiell, Zachary Benson, Sydney Benson and Ryan Benson. He leaves three great-grandchildren, Arden Rae Dashiell, Brooklyn Wiard and Jordan Dashiell.

Additionally, he is survived by his companion of 15 years, Marilyn Conklin Brugh (Morgarts Beach); sister-in-law, Ellie Dashiell (Smithfield) and numerous nephews and nieces.

He will be fondly remembered for his love of family, personal courage, dry humor, broad mindedness and as the consummate Virginia gentleman. 

The family is grateful to the Riverside Hospice team and the Riverside Healthy Living Community staff in Smithfield. 

Memorial contributions may be made to Ducks Unlimited in the name of Jack Dashiell. 
 Family will host friends and relatives at the family home in Smithfield on June 18 from 2 – 5 p.m. Burial with full military honors will be held at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date. Little’s Funeral Home, Smithfield, is handling arrangements.