An illness that united a community

Jason Crosby, a beloved local bartender, father and husband passed away Sunday night after a long fight with pancreatic cancer. Known for a passion for cocktails surpassed only by his love for his family, Crosby leaves behind his wife Ashley and daughters Giana and Salem. The 44-year-old had battled the disease for nearly nine months, receiving treatment from the VA Medical Center before his body began rejecting the medication. (2012 photo by Max Cooper)

The Crosbys began seeking alternative treatments but experienced a severe lack of funding. Cynthia Turner of Imperial Life and the Asheville Bartenders Guild rallied behind the cause, organizing “Painkillers for a Pancreas,” a fundraiser that accrued more than $16,000 for the struggling family. Some local bartenders donated tips from entire shifts to the Crosbys, knowing full well the fear of falling ill in an industry where hardly anyone has health insurance. “That was truly an incredible experience,” Says Turner. “Such love poured out of Asheville and our Industry family… I feel blessed to have been a part of it.”

Turner and the Bartenders Guild were just the beginning of the outpouring. The following months saw Asheville building a pillar of support behind Crosby. Through a dinner at his workplace, the Junction, hosted by Oskar Blues Brewery, the community raised more than $15,000 for the ailing family. “Its really amazing,” said Crosby in an April 2013 interview. “We have really been very private, we don’t get out much. So to see people we’ve never met giving so much is really amazing. It says a lot about this town.”

“I was at M.G. Road on a night when they were donating tips” says Dan Collier of Collier Consulting, “I talked about it with my buddy Chris and we said ‘why don’t we do something for this guy?’” Collier teamed up with Chris Parham, a golf pro at Mountain Air Country Club, to put together a benefit golf tournament with more than 30 participants, plus a dinner and silent auction at the Bywater. Combined, the two fundraisers brought in more than $13,000.

It is common to see cities brought together by earthquakes, hurricanes or floods, but seeing a community rally behind a single fallen soldier is truly remarkable. “I didn’t know him before he was sick,” said Collier, “but he ended up becoming a good friend.” And that seemed to be a common theme among those the always-grateful and always-humble Crosby touched on his way out of this world. “For Jason, I’m grateful his sweet soul can rest,” Said Turner. “His perseverance and love are an inspiration. He was a great man with amazing talent who helped raise the mixology bar here in Asheville. His presence in our community will be deeply missed.”

A Memorial Service will be held at 2 p.m. Nov. 2 at New Life Community Church, 1417 Riverside Drive. A benefit concert featuring Matt Lane and David Earl will be held on Dec. 7 at Lexington Avenue Brewery. To make a donation to support Crosby’s family, visit


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About Gina Smith
Gina Smith is the Mountain Xpress Food section editor and writer. She can be reached at

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