“A day in the life of the Ascue family looks as normal or abnormal as anyone else living in the Lowcountry,” said Craig Ascue, son of Mr. and Mrs. Tim and Pearl Vanderhorst-Ascue, revered community members in Charleston, South Carolina. The Vanderhorst-Ascue lineage name rings bells in Charleston; the Ascue lineage, community service work, their long-standing history of ownership of business land, and setting the tone of the importance of a close-knit, caring family.
“The Ascue family has been a part of the Low Country for a very long time and has been extremely impactful with their presence,” Craig continued, speaking with Nailah Herbert of Charleston Compass Magazine. “My parents never left the area to find new jobs and new lives. During their youth, Tim and Pearl did not participate in the South's mass exodus to the North. Both their parents were from Mount Pleasant and planted their roots here.”
Mr. and Mrs. Tim and Pearl Ascue are the head of the Ascue family and have been married for 57 years and counting. They were high school sweethearts and graduated from Laing High School in the early 1960s. Like everything else in Charleston, Laing High School has a rich history.
The school was originally founded by abolitionist Cornelia Hancock, and the school only educated Black students post-Civil War era; before its integration in the late 1960s.
Presently, Laing High School is known as Laing Middle School of Science & Technology and serves a diverse background of students.
“Between both of my parents' families, they have over two hundred years of lineage in the East Cooper Community. My maternal grandparents, Robert and Virginia Vanderhorst, were vegetable farmers in the Two Mile and Four Mile communities with over 150 acres of farmland to work, rental property, gas station, and equipment to manage. On the fraternal side of my family, the Ascue and Gathers were more entrepreneurial creators, cooks, mechanics, and craftsmen.” said Craig explaining how deeply rooted his parents are in the Charleston community, reflecting on their multi-generational Charleston roots.
Charleston has a deep-seated history from slavery and Jim Crow Laws, the history of the Gullah Geechee people, and sweet grass basket weaving to spacious Low Country living. But, significant changes are happening in Charleston, from gentrification to the slow erasure of Black history. However, Mrs. Pearl Ascue works tirelessly to preserve the history many tourists travel thousands of miles to witness and experience.
Okeeba Jubalo, a native of North Charleston and a great friend of the Ascue family, recognizes the cultural differences that are starting to shift the communities in Charleston. A powerhouse in the North Charleston community, Okeeba Jubalo is also the gallery owner of the Okeeba Jubalo Fine Art Gallery, where he hosts events, showcases, and sells high-end artwork by artists of African descent.
“As a son of Charleston, my responsibility is to maintain our narrative authentically and accordingly. Gentrification is an issue, and if we want to be seen in the correct light, it is up to us,” said Okeeba Jubalo. “We must fund and control our own platforms that are not funded or controlled by anyone else. Our culture is our responsibility.”
Through her preservation efforts, she has become a sitting member on several boards and committees, including residing as the current President of the Laing School Association. In 2020, Mrs. Pearl Ascue helped place a historical marker in front of Laing Middle School to allow students the opportunity to learn about their school’s history and reflect on the far-reaching racial inequalities that society has overcome.
As for Mrs. Pearl Ascue’s daily work with her family and community, Craig added, “My parents are retired now, but they still have many tasks like picking up the grandkids from school and attending extracurricular student events to Facetime talks with their
college-bound grandkids. But during the week, my mother serves on local boards and committees. Her biggest passion, along with Mr. Ascue, is working to better the community in which they live: Ten Mile.”
Patriarch of the Ascue family, Mr. Tim Ascue, understands all too well what it means to have a family legacy and pass down tools that will best position his children and grandchildren for success.
A hardworking family man, Mr. Tim Ascue sets the tone for his family by showing them through action that he wants his children
to inherit not only spiritual and core values but material and intellectual tools necessary to help his children thrive. Explaining how his father values ownership and treating others in a respectable manner at all times, Craig also stated, “My parents, aunts, and uncles have instilled many core values within me like finishing what you start, supporting people with good causes, being accountable for your actions, and always striving to improve yourself.”
A well-known businessman in Charleston, Mr. Tim Ascue, continuously shows his community the importance of business and land ownership. He also values being an entrepreneur but has faced many challenges since the inception of his first business, an automobile body shop he opened in Mount Pleasant in 1968.
Soon after, he later added a tow truck company to his list of entrepreneurial ventures in 1973. During that time, Mr. Tim Ascue had to endure many hurdles like racial, societal, and economic challenges as he started his business journey when he was 19.
Mr. Tim Ascue doesn't shy away from sharing his entrepreneurial story to help other individuals on their path to success. He often shares those stories during the Ascue's staple family Sunday dinners. The dinners were started by Mr. Tim Ascue’s mother, Joulia Gathers Ascue, at her dinner table years ago. She used the family dinners to seal the family's connectivity with communication, grace, and great Gullah foods.
The Ascue family utilizes their dinner time to fellowship with others, learn more about the people in their community, and encourage one another in their professional and personal endeavors. Craig added, “Sometimes there is only us at Sunday dinner, and other times it’s a who’s who of business executives, politicians, and community leaders. One of [Tim’s] favorite pastimes is cooking for his family's evening dinner. He doesn't like the fast food scene, but most importantly, he enjoys Sunday dinner where he and the family, as well as extended family, friends, and guests, have the opportunity to share and engage on a different level.”
Mr. and Mrs. Tim and Pearl Ascue recently invited Okeeba Jubalo and his wife, Katrina Brown, to a Sunday dinner. Okeeba Jubalo and Kat Brown highly revere the Ascue family and their community service work.
"It is very important for the community to see a model of what this Black family looks like. Mr. and Mrs. Ascue reminds me of a more seasoned version of myself and my wife. I see a more settled version of myself in Mr. Ascue. A man who is soft-spoken but a bare-knuckle brawler with a sharp mind for business who is not afraid to take a man down for coming at him the wrong way," said Jubalo. "Meanwhile, Mrs. Ascue has the class, taste, and attention to detail she easily uses to smooth her husband’s sharp edges. For them to build what they have, it takes the vision and flexibility of a couple to see beyond themselves. As someone whose dad died when I was ten years old, I had to learn everything the hard way. The story of the Ascue family needs to be told. I am honored to be in a position to help facilitate this process."
Since Mr. and Mrs. Tim and Pearl Ascue were raised during the peak of the Jim Crow era, they understood that existing in a country, and in the South, where African Americans were systematically kept from achieving their goals, they instilled the value of hard work despite outside circumstances in their children. Their children Craig, Christi, Tory, and Michael are all proud business owners. Craig added, “Myself and my sister, Christi run the family businesses, including Ascue's Auto Body & Paint Shop and the real estate and development company. Tory works at the Mercedes Benz Van plant as well as Ascue's Auto Body & Paint Shop. Mike runs his trucking company Mid Atlantic Services, based in North Charleston.”
The community of Charleston respects the Ascue family for many reasons. The Ascue family is proud to lead and serve their fellow Charlestonians. They nurture their community back to good health, care about each other, and lead by example.
Mr. and Mrs. Tim and Pearl Ascue and the Ascue children understand that a true legacy is not about what was accomplished in the past and the material things you’ve accumulated. Legacy is about what you will set forth in the future and the value system that will outlive you.