The Ethan Townsend Memorial Endowment Fund

Ethan Townsend
Ethan Townsend

April 5, 1985 - Sept. 4, 2009

Ethan Townsend, beloved son, brother, nephew, grandson and friend, died tragically in Southwest China when he and his traveling companion were hit by a rockslide. He was 24 years old. Ethan was born at Stanford University Hospital to Hal and Mary (Meadows) Townsend on April 5, 1985. His family relocated to Ashland in 1990, just in time for Ethan to begin Kindergarten at Walker Elementary School. He then attended Ashland Middle School and graduated from Ashland High School in 2003. Ethan played soccer and the cello. He participated on the math and science bowl teams. He approached every day as an opportunity to learn something he didn't know before.

Ethan attended Stanford University and graduated in four years with a masters degree in mechanical engineering and a bachelors degree in physics. At the time of his death, Ethan was working toward a PhD in Physics at Colorado University at Boulder. Specifically, his lab was studying Atomic and Molecular Optics, he worked with lasers and liquid nitrogen and he enjoyed himself.

Ethan loved competition, and in his own words, "I love competition, not in order to compete against one another, but in order to bring a team closer together. Nothing is as exciting to me as a good plan executed successfully by a group of people with mutual trust." He also loved building things and tinkering. He usually applied the "learn by doing" method to his projects. Most recently he was installing an onboard computer and night vision into his car. The end result was never as important as the process of discovery and learning.

The spirit of adventure and exploration was a major driving force in his life and he always seemed to find like minded friends to accompany him on his journeys. He believed that the world was full of opportunities and he tried very hard to take advantage of every one of them.

Ethan was brilliant, yet humble. Compassionate, caring and fun, loved by his friends and adored by his family, he was a bright light whose energy will be greatly missed by all that knew him.

The Ethan Townsend Memorial Fund at the Ashland Schools Foundation has been established to support the Student Tutoring Center at Ashland High School. The Center employees the best and brightest students at Ashland High School to tutor students who come into the Center seeking help. The Center is available to students after school on white days to either come in for help with difficult homework, or simply as a safe and helpful environment to complete their homework.


Ethan Townsend dedicated much of his life to helping others – particularly other students - in any way he could. The Ashland Schools Foundation is honored to create this fund in Ethan’s name in recognition of his giving and generous spirit.


To donate online to the Ethan Townsend Memorial Fund, click on our “donate” button and note that this is a gift in memory of Ethan in the “tribute” section of our donation form. Ethan’s family will be notified of all donors to the memorial fund.


If you do not want to donate online, you are welcome to send a check or call in your donation – just be sure to note that your gift is for the Ethan Townsend Memorial Fund.


UPDATE (March 2010): The Ethan Townsend Memorial Fund has received enough donations to form a permanent endowment with ASF. The interest from this endowment will be drawn annually to support the AHS Student Tutor Center (see article above) as tutoring other students was a passion of Ethan’s. Currently the endowment will fund about 25% of the cost of the Center. Additional donations are welcomed, as we hope to build the fund to fully support the student tutor center.




If you are interested in reading more about Ethan, see the following news articles:,0,36760.story