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Charles Ashburner

Forest Lawn Cemetery

 Charles Ashburner photo

Charles Ashburner was born in Bombay, India in 1870.  Ashburner was the son of a British military officer and was educated in England, France, and Germany.  He studied engineering at the University of Heidelberg.  He lived and worked in Richmond as an engineer for several years.  Ashburner was appointed as Norfolk’s first city manager in 1918.  He previously worked in Staunton, Va. in the same role and helped to create the now widely used city-manager form of government.  This form of government had its origins in his “Staunton Plan” which consisted of concentrating administrative authority into the hands of a single position that would be free to implement the objectives and policies of the city council.  This plan is credited with having saved Staunton from bankruptcy and for helping to bring local government administration into the modern age.   After his time in Norfolk, he worked as the City Manager in Springfield, OH. and Stockton, CA.  Ashburner returned to Norfolk some time later and spent his last few years working in insurance and investment banking.



Obituary of Charles Ashburner, New York Times, October 27, 1932.  See also, Petersburg Independent, “City Manager Proves Worth,” Petersburg Independent, May 11, 1958 and Charles Culbertson, “Hard-Nosed City Manager Saved City from Bankruptcy,” The News Leader, June 17, 2006 and R.S.C., “The Origin of the City Manager Plan in Staunton, Virginia,” National Municipal Review 43, no. 9, (1954).  Photo from, available from (accessed on July 4, 2012).      

Biographical information provided by Norfolk Bureau of Cemeteries.

Visitor Information

Visitor Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

Office hours: Monday to Sunday 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM

Free parking inside cemetery.

Admission Cost: Free

Address: 8100 Granby Street, Norfolk, VA 23505

Official web site for more information:

Norfolk Society for Cemetery Conservation Web Site: