Abington’s Ashton Carter, former Defense secretary, dead at 68

Ashton Carter, who grew up in Abington, served as the nation’s 25th secretary of Defense from February 2015 to January 2017. Politico reported that he passed away Monday evening at his home in Boston of a sudden cardiac event at the age of 68.

President Biden worked with Carter during the Obama era, and said in a statement Tuesday, “When I think of Ash Carter, I think of a man of extraordinary integrity. Honest. Principled. Guided by a strong, steady moral compass and a vision of using his life for public purpose.”

Obama offered his condolences in a statement: “Today we mourn the passing of former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and celebrate a leader who left America — and the world — safer through his lifetime of service.”

From left, Carter, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and President Barack Obama in 2012

Carter went to Highland Elementary School and graduated from Abington Senior High School in 1972. He was a wrestler, lacrosse player, cross-country runner, and president of the Honor Society, and was inducted into Abington Senior High School’s Hall of Fame in 1989. Carter’s father was department chairman at Abington Memorial Hospital for 30 years, and his mother was an English teacher. His childhood nicknames were Ash and Stoobie.

He was first appointed to the Pentagon in the early 1990s as the assistant secretary of Defense for global strategic affairs, and went on serve as the deputy secretary of Defense and undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. He was a member of the Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board, the Defense Policy Board, and the Defense Science Board and the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Science and Technology for Countering Terrorism.

Carter at the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea

In addition to his political endeavors, Carter was an active academic up until his death, serving as a public policy professor and the director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School.

He was married to Stephanie (DeLeeuw) Carter, and had two children, Ava and Will, during his previous marriage to Clayton Spencer.

For more on Carter’s life, career, and a 2018 speech he delivered, you can read ABC News’ extensive coverage here.

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia.