IMAGES: Faith, memories and smiles mark final farewell for John Asher

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Tears and memories came from family and friends gathered for the funeral of John Asher.

It was a full house at the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville on Wednesday to say farewell to the Churchill Downs spokesman.

The 62-year-old died August 27 after suffering a heart attack while on a Florida vacation with family. His sudden death brought an outpouring of support for his beloved family.

A string quartet from Asher's alma mater, Western Kentucky University, greeted mourners who took their seats before Asher's casket was brought to the front of the cathedral.

Two men remembered Asher in heartfelt eulogies. The first was Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery. He talked about his strong relationship with Asher, the track's vice president of communications. And he spoke about the decision to honor Asher by allowing his hearse to take a final lap around the track Tuesday.

"When John took his final lap beneath the spires, it may have been the slowest, but it was the most meaningful mile and a quarter in the history of Churchill Downs," said Flanery.  

He said his friend was quick to write things in a notebook, when he wanted to remember a conversation.

Flanery said Asher would often write himself Post-it notes as reminders of those conversations. Flanery's voice cracked with emotion, when he talked about going into Asher's office, after learning of his death. He said there was a Post-it stuck to the computer that said "Bring it."

"I know he has two words for us as we move forward -- 'bring it, bring it.' Bring that passion, bring that laugh. Bring the love, bring a little bit of John Asher to the table. We do that and our lives might approach the meaning of John's life. Rest easy, John. Rest easy," Flanery said.

The second emotional remembrance was given by Asher's "self-proclaimed best friend." Radio host George Lindsey said he met Asher as a teenager, when they attended Western Kentucky University. They hosted a radio show together where Asher gave the news. 

Lindsey said despite his on-camera presence and love of talking, Asher was "painfully shy." "We know that growing up with John and being with him that he was susceptible to periods of the blues and melancholy and self doubt. But his burdens were never heavy to carry because John always carried ours steadfastly."

Of his long friendship with Asher, Lindsey said he relished their differences, their similarities and their bond. "There's this strange thing about knowing John Asher. It got better with years. And if I'm being totally honest it got a little weirder."

The funeral mass included references during the Homily to Asher's hearse being driven around the Churchill Downs track on Tuesday before his visitation in the Jockey Suites. "Every horse, every person associated with the track, John loved," said Rev. Chuck Walker, an Asher family friend.

Readings were offered from former television reporter Mark Hebert, and from Dr. Kevin Cosby of St. Stephen Church and Simmons College.

The funeral ended with a playing of "My Old Kentucky Home" by Churchill Downs bugler Steve Buttleman, as the mourners filed out of the cathedral.