Pete and Megan Ashby have lived an adventurous life.
For the last 15 years, they’ve lived the pipelining life, moving from state to state, place to place. Where Pete would be on the job, the family would follow. They made some big moves.
But they’re now making an even bigger life move.
They’re settling down.
From their beautiful little homestead in Avondale – where they’re raising their 4 kids – they’re going to move on from pipelining and into much more fulfilling careers.
Both Pete and Megan are members of the Marion Fire Department, and Pete will soon begin a career in emergency services. Helping people is what they were meant to do.
It’s a calling that Pete’s had since high school, before life got adventurous. After doing what needed to be done to support the family, life has come full circle. And although the career change may bring about a little bit of a challenge, it’s something they’re incredibly excited about.
We caught up with Pete and Megan recently where we learned a little bit about where they’ve been, and where they’re going. We learned that Pete and Megan Ashby are more than just a couple of faces in the crowd.
Marion Press: Pete, you were born and raised in Marion, right?
Pete: Yep. I did spend some years in Utah – from ‘93 to ‘97 – we’d go move out there for several months to a year when my dad was out there pipelining. But of course, I finished up high school here.
MP: What kept you busy growing up? What were some of your favorite memories from going to school in Marion?
Pete: Definitely the outdoors; the hunting, the fishing. I used to trap a lot when I was a kid. General mischievousness is a good way to sum some of that up. [In school] definitely the football team. We had a terrible team; I shouldn’t say terrible, we were just outmanned. Some of the teams back then – McBain, Beal City, Evart – were dominant and hard to beat. We just didn’t have the physical manpower. But we had some great players. Jamie Fancett was all-state, Trevor Eising was a good quarterback, and I never came off the field.
MP: What were things like in the Ashby family growing up? You had a lot of cousins to hang out with.
Pete: I have two sisters, Faith and Nicole. It depended on which cousin I was hanging out at the time: Ken and I used to play around with old broken-down motorcycles; Tim and I used to just hit the trails and play out in the woods. We built a zipline at the gravel pits and that failed. And that hurt a lot actually!
MP: Where were you born and raised, Megan? What kept you busy growing up?
Megan: Evart. Our [current] house is just two miles from my grandma, and three miles from my mom. Hanging out with friends. I didn’t really play any sports; I wasn’t outdoorsy. I just spent time with my family – I have an older brother and a younger sister – and hung out with my friends. Senior year was lots of fun. We played a prank on Mr. Bogner and we all camped out in his front yard before school one day. He come out and saw us all with our tents in the yard – that was one of my favorite memories.
MP: When did the two of you meet? How did that come about?
Megan: ’03. We had a mutual friend. I can remember the first time I saw him, he was at one of the Evart games, watching Faith play basketball. My friend started talking to him, and then he walked away. I was like, “Who is that?!” She says, “Oh, that’s Pete.” I said, “Mmm, okay.”
Pete: “I’m gonna marry that guy!”
Megan: And then August of 2003, we met again. We were at a bonfire, and we hung out, and we’ve pretty much been inseparable ever since. We’ve lived a very adventurous life.
MP: Pipelining is kind of in your blood, right Pete? Is that something that you always wanted to do?
Pete: It is [in my blood]. I actually didn’t want to. I wanted to go and do my own thing – that’s where the college had come in. And then I joined the fire department. Well that completely changed my outlook, and I took it upon myself to go to Baker and get my paramedics license… I made it all the way through – back then they called it an Advanced EMT. But we had to change, I was struggling a little bit with life in general, and her and I got together and we had to make a move. So we moved to Gaylord. I worked at a scrapyard, and she worked two jobs. Making ends meet. So we tried that for just over a year, and the ends really weren’t meeting; they just weren’t.
Life got tough, and I finally made the choice… I went back pipelining. So we took back pipelining in 2007, and basically made that our life up until this winter.
MP: What all does the pipelining life entail?
Pete: Lots of traveling. Lots of hoping around, trailer park living. For 5 years we lived in a camper, even when we come home, that was our house. And we would stay with our grandma’s when we come home. But we didn’t own a home, and we had two kids. So it was okay, but after 5 years of that we knew we had to make another move.
We started shopping around, and she found our little place that we’ve got now, and she was in love with it before we even seen it. And then when I seen it, I was sold.
Megan: The backyard is beautiful.
Pete: I’ve kind of got it cluttered with farm equipment, but there’s pear trees, mulberry trees, cherry trees, apple trees, and all the wildlife you could ask for: turkeys, partridge, squirrels, bears, bobcats, coyotes – all of ‘em. So we bought that in 2013 and continued the pipeline life.
We lived the pipeline life, working every job, saving money, coming home, enjoying life, and then going back on the road.
MP: But now you’re moving on with some big changes. Tell us about that.
Pete: I’ve always had a calling for EMS, always have. This year, David Turner got us hooked up with a class through Osceola County for EMT, both of us. We’re both in the Fire Academy also. We’ve made the decision – including our kids – that were going to hold off pipelining for a while, and I’m going to work as an EMT, and work on my paramedics license.
Megan: It was a big step. That was a lot to think about, and I was good with it, and then reality set in. I was like, “Oh my gosh, life is going to be completely different.” I haven’t worked in 16 years – we always stayed as a family, wherever we went. Now, I’m getting a job. I volunteer at Pleasant Ridge; I do crafts, and games – we played dominoes today – and they came and asked if I would like a job there, so I’m going to start working there. I like it there. They take real good care of their people. They have the well-being in mind.
MP: What made you want to get into EMS and the fire department?
Pete: I like helping people. I’ll drop whatever I’m doing. Now, I might complain about helping them, but I’ll drop whatever I’m doing to help somebody. To me, there’s no better way to help somebody than when they’re in that kind of need. That’s the ultimate win for me. How better to help somebody than to help save their lives? Doing fire or EMS, I can come at it from either angle. It’s what I’m supposed to do, I’ve always known it. I just wasn’t able to do it until now. It’s time to do it. For me and my family, I can help a little chunk of this world out, and make it more than just me and my family.
MP: And you’re on the department too, Megan. How’d that come about?
Megan: About a year ago, he was like, “I’m on the fire department, you should join.” I’m like, “No, I’m not an emergency situation type of person, you don’t want me to be on there.” He said, “No, it’s a great group of people, you should try it.”
It took him months to talk me into it. Then I started going on rescue calls with the Barrons, and [Ashley] Butler and [Pete] and I started to like it.
MP: What do you enjoy the most about being on the fire department?
Megan: We’ve got a great group of friends here. The Barrons, they’re our best friends. We spend a lot of time with them. More involvement in the community, and helping people in that time of need when they need it most. It’s been fun.
Pete: I want to say the camaraderie, but it’s more than that. It’s knowing that our general purpose is public safety. We’re here to make the public safe. Everything that we’re about is about helping our community. It’s pre-planning, planning, prevention, and it’s the camaraderie in that. You’ve got a group of people with the same goals in mind.
MP: Tell us a little bit about your family. What keeps the Ashby’s busy in your free time?
Megan: Alivia is 17, she’s our crafty girl. Anything to do with crafting. She really likes the guitar, and she’s very creative. Colton will be 15 at the end of the month, Nora is 8, and Sullivan is 6.
Pete: Kayaking; Colton and I go like to go scuba diving – he was actually certified when he was 10 years old. We’ve got that side-by-side, and we’ll take a random trip and end up here in Marion, drive over to the Muskegon, and then go trail riding.
We like to just play. I’ll wander off and start doing something, or Megan will start doing something and we’ll all wind up doing the same thing. We have a lot of campfires. We used to hunt a lot – me and the boy still do. Sullivan just got his first .22 this year. We try to get out of the house as much as possible, even if it’s just going out and staring at the trees. I’ve built quite the trail system out behind the house, and the kids will just disappear out there. Mom and I usually take that advantage to take a nap or get something done!
MP: What do you enjoy the most about being a part of the Marion community?
Pete: It’s the small-town living. Today I chatted with Fred Flemming at the gas station for close to 45 minutes, just chatting. And that’s just chatting. That’s a good way to sum it up, because you don’t get that in the cities, or in the big heavy communities. And in this community, when something happens – it may not be the whole community – but there’s going to be enough in this community that’s going to come together.
Megan: I grew up in Evart, it’s small town living too. I think Marion is a little bit more of a tighter knit community. You go to the gas station, or go to a basketball game…
Pete: You never actually see the game because you’re too busy catching up!
MP: Who have been your role models over the years? What’s the best advice that’s worked for you?
Pete: My dad [Pete Sr.] and my grandparents. Dad showed me how to live my life, and my grandparents showed me how I’m supposed to live my life. Grandpa and grandma kept me on the right track, and dad showed me how to get it done.
Megan: Put your family first. We’ve always put our kids and our family first.
Pete and Megan Ashby have lived an adventurous life.