Friday, July 10, 2015

Bill Askren

Ocracoke has for a long time attracted various eccentrics. In the late 1950s through the early 1960s Bill Askren lived on the island. Bill drove an old car to Ocracoke, parked it on a sand hill, and lived in it. Later he moved into a small building on present-day Ocean View Road. He cultivated a garden, kept mostly to himself, and lived a simple, uncomplicated life. 

From Ocracoke, Bill Askren moved to California to be closer to his family. For more than three decades Bill stayed in California, spreading his message of peace, the simple life, and healthy living.  

He was 82 years old when he died April 7, 1999. Bill Askren is buried in Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.

Older islanders still remember Bill fondly. He is one of a number of unconventional people who discovered that Ocracoke is generally a non-judgmental community that embraces folks who march to different drummers. 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter relates the story of the prohibition-era rum runner Messenger of Peace that brought much pleasure to the residents of Portsmouth. You can read it here:


  1. A nice tribute to a man I never met, but somehow as a transplant myself I feel some similarity. He wanted a simple life. And as the picture shows, awfully good at growing loofahs.
    Philip did you take the picture? Old photographs can be great to pull out memories.

    1. I did not take the photo. I got it from OPS. I believe Ginny Wahab donated it. I have several more that I received from Bill's relatives. I may write a longer Newsletter article about him sometime.

  2. Anonymous10:22 AM

    If this guy Bill Askren had not been from California and had not driven an old car....yesterday I was in a Goodwill store and we parked next to a car from CA. The rear window announced to the world CA to FL and back. Well, let's just say they were no doubt turning around and heading home to CA. They made their presence known-- I may not have noticed the Tall skinny blonde surfer type guy leaving the store but for the fact the blue haired woman shouted to the man (Husband's name) I need some money. he responed with a flip comment that she should look in her wallet. He did not have his wallet and he was going across the street to get gas in the classic 50's or 60's station wagon, white with fins. She was behind us in line. Was this an act to raise the sympathy of the other shoppers to help her make her purchases, to assist her in raising her two children, I don't know. These free spirits made it this far and now were about to embark on another cross country trip. those of us less adventurous, with a full time job and grown children, would go about their business and leave the store wondering and wishing them happy trails I suppose. I suppose the spirit of BA is still walking the face of the Earth in 2015.