May 072014
 
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Dr. Robert S. Ambrose
(1942-2014)

 

This is the first week in 45 years of my life that I am without a father.  A man who I called Dad, who I spoke to as a brother, and who I shared feelings with as a trusted friend.  A powerful sparkle in God’s eye that he allowed to be shared with friends, family and patients.

Many reading this post will not be able to attend the funeral of Robert Ambrose.  I only hope that the words I write and you read will pay this man the due he so richly deserves.  I’ve also included some of his most recent pictures below, which you can click to enlarge and enjoy.

Dad wasn’t perfect, and trying to make him seem perfect would be dishonoring to what he would want me to tell others.  You see, Dad didn’t concern himself with being the best, the richest, or the flashiest.  His passion was to enjoy life, to love his family and to help others. Over these last few days since his sudden and surprising death, my brother Michael and I have gotten to know Dad’s heart and mind in a way better than perhaps a last conversation.

Many of us would presume to understand what God’s plan is for us.  When someone we love or care about is taken away, we sometimes question the “fairness” and the “love” that a just God would have in doing this.  But I believe that events such as the death of a close and loved individual bring clarity and understanding to our lives – if we are to open up our minds and hearts.  What I believe, more now than ever, is that there IS a God, that in being with Him, Dad is finally free from suffering, and that we all will have the opportunity to see Dad once again.

My father’s life tells a story of an only child born to Helen and Stephen Ambrose.  Robert, or “Bobby” as he was known to his parents and closest relatives, was born at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, on September 19, 1942.  Dad was a full-blooded Hungarian, who entered his first day of school in Lakewood, N.J. never learning how to speak English.  Dad adapted and eventually thrived in school, making many friends and pursuing sports, such as Varsity Baseball.  He was handsome, proud of his 1958 Pontiac and could ‘cut a fine rug’ on the dance floor.

After Lakewood High School, Dad attended the University of Maryland, studying and eventually gaining a degree in Sociology. Thereafter, against the wishes of his strong-willed and loving mother, Dad chose a career in Chiropractic – a profession that was much maligned by mainstream medicine.  But being on the ‘odd’ or minority side of things wasn’t important to Dad.  He didn’t compromise his values just to be liked.  He was a man who knew that he enjoyed helping people, and that it was within him to be excellent at that.  Dad went on to help many thousands of sick and hurting patients in his more than 41 years of chiropractic practice in central New Jersey.

My mother and father married in 1963 and bore two children, myself and my sister Melissa.  Eventually divorcing, Dad always felt it important to be near his children and to bring as little disruption  to our lives as possible.  So he kept his home chiropractic office, which was connected to my mother’s home – for another 28 years!  Mom and Dad stayed friends because they knew that apart from their differences, that the welfare and comfort of their children came first.  I loved Dad for that.

Eventually Dad remarried to Judy Zager, who had been very successful in real estate.  Dad loved Judy very much, and she bore him a son named Michael in 1984.  In the spring of 1986, Judy was tragically killed in an automobile accident – but my brother Michael survived.  He has gone on to be an accomplished pianist and entrepreneur in the internet domain space.  Dad’s heart was broken, but he stayed strong for his children, raising Michael as a single Dad.  He could have quickly remarried, but Dad wasn’t looking for a helper, he was looking for another heart to love.

That happened for Dad, when in 1997 he married Sande Mule, an accomplished dance school owner and teacher.  Sande brought energy and excitement back into the areas of Dad’s life that had been dimmed for years.  Dad’s passion came back into so many areas of his life, and he was a better man for being with her.  Our hearts go out to Sande in his loss of a dear husband and wonderful companion.

So what else did Dad do?

He was an accomplished sailor, and a proud member of the U.S. Power Squadrons.  He was an avid skier, taking his family on many trips to Vermont, Utah, Pennsylvania and yes, even northern New Jersey.  Dad’s sole baseball devotion was to the New York Yankees.  For football, you could frequently catch Dad regularly jumping out of his recliner, in good times and bad, when watching his beloved New York Giants.

Was Dad the greatest man to ever walk the earth?  Probably not.  But he WAS great.

Was he the most intelligent?  No.  But many times he HAD the right answers.

Was he the most handsome?  Well, a popular line he always threw out was, “Handsomer than the Handsomest!”   I’ll let that stand for now Dad, since you can’t be here to defend yourself.

In closing, Robert Ambrose was a man that we were all better off for knowing and for loving.  Today I am wearing the gold chain and anchor that that sailor wore for so many years, until that fateful night that he had to remove it in the emergency room.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m wearing it now, or the pride of being able to wear it, but I feel like he’s with me just that much more.

Dear God….I miss my Dad.  We all miss him so very much.  Please take good care of him Father.

 

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  19 Responses to “Remembering Dr. Robert Ambrose”

  1. Michael and Steven and Missy..That eulogy is beautiful and well done..Bob would be proud and probably is..

  2. What a wonderful loving eulogy. I never met Dr. Ambrose but wish I could have. Thanks for sharing a bit about a wonderful man and father. I am sorry for your loss.

    Steve

  3. What precious memories you have – hold tight to each and every one. Sorry for your loss.

  4. Steve,
    I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s so tough to lose a parent.
    You did a wonderful job with the eulogy. Sounds like he was a great man and I know you will miss him tremendously.
    Hang on to those wonderful memories.
    Please give your family my love and take care.

  5. Thoughts and prayers going cup from the a Rand family for you and your family buddy.

  6. Hey Stephen, I am sso sorry to hear of Bobby’s death. I know a little of what you are going through, My dad died suddenly and unexpetedly last month. In reading your tribute to your dad, I learned they were born in the same hospital in NYC. Give yourself the gift of time. I still don’t get through a day without tears.

    Susan

  7. Steve, Michael, & Melissa,
    As I read this beautiful write up of my Uncle Bob’s life I couldn’t help but smile. It brought back
    so many wonderful memories I shared with all of you. I forgot that the first time I ever went skiing was with
    Uncle Bob and you Melissa. I think we ended up in a ditch at Camelback ! I remember the countless
    weekends spent on the boat sailing together and enjoying the tranquility of the ocean. I remember spending
    so many weekends at Uncle Bob and Aunt Judy ‘s house as a child when Helen was still alive. I remember the
    love I saw in my uncle’s face when he spent time with his children and when Michael was born. Your family meant
    so much to me and was a wonderful part of my life. My daughter Jordyn who is now 12 is named after Judy. I know
    that life is unpredictable but knowing the future would ruin the journey. I smile thinking of the life I shared with all of you
    and knowing that uncle Bob is at peace. Love you all…. Marla

  8. Hey Steve,
    I love the tribute and thoughts that you gave to your dad! You have always had a way with words and I know he would be, and is, proud of you. It sounds like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Like your father, you have always loved your family first and you have lived and continue to live a full life! That’s one of the many things that I love about you Steve. I wish I could have gotten to have known your dad, but I expect in a way, I already have:) I pray that God would give you and your family peace and fond memories of times you and your dad have had together over the years. Thanks for being a good friend! Buddy

  9. To Sande, Steve, Mike and Melissa,

    Our son, Mike, is a chiropractor today as a result of the Chiropractic help that he received from Bob as a child. I worked for Bob in the 80’s doing the insurance for his practice. Our entire family was treated by and loved Bob. I was with him the tragic day Judy was killed–I remember how Michael grieved so. It was a tough time to get through. I am so very happy that he found love again with Sande. He deserved the most love and the best of things in this world. He loved his children with all of his heart and it is so true that he always put them first. We will miss him. However, God has another angel up in heaven to adjust the other angels–and to help other sailors too! With great sympathy, Judy, Joe, Lisa and Mike Sredniawski

  10. Steven,
    I am so sorry to learn of Dr. Bob’s passing. Your words are well written and mean so much to me. Your words made me realize how close I was to your family. My mom as well as myself were there to witness all the events of your Dad’s life since you and Missy were toddlers as well as Michael’s birth. He was such a genuine, compassionate, nice person in spite of the trials he had to face.. I really enjoyed working in his office with him and have such a respect for chiropractics because of him. I also think about all the times he came to speak to the 5 th graders at ORS with his model of the spine.. Steven, you have some big shoes to fill.
    Jane

  11. A beautiful eulogy written by a loving family. I believe Bob feels the love and his loving spirit will be with everyone he has touched. I hope the love and support from family and friends will bring you comfort at this difficult time.

    Love,
    Aunt Linda, Uncle Barry and family

  12. Dr. Ambrose,

    Thank you for sharing! Great perspective and very touching.

  13. Such a wonderful tribute. I know you miss him so very much, but he will always live in your heart.

    Love to you and all your family,

    Rhetta

  14. Beautiful eulogy, and very well written. I didn’t know your father, though I do know your fathers son. If he was anything like Steve, he had to be an awesome man. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. Losing a loved one is very difficult. I lost my mother 12 years ago this month and it still feels like yesterday. I know in my heart she will always be with me, as your father will always be with you.

    Shelly

  15. Wow! Even though I didn’t know your dad it is moving to read such an honest and eloquent expression of your love. Prayers will continue for you.

    Jonathan and Kathryn

  16. Dear Steve: Martha and I and the kids so wish we had been able to be in attendance to hear you deliver this beautiful oration. I was really interested in your Dad’s background … it’s a shame that when you meet someone only at weddings, family events, you don’t really have the chance to spill your biographical details. If I had known your Dad’s, I would have had a million questions for him.

    This part had me shedding a tear:

    Today I am wearing the gold chain and anchor that that sailor wore for so many years, until that fateful night that he had to remove it ”
    Long may you wear it brother. May it be to you an anchor in life.

  17. Bobby was my friend in Lakewood NJ in the early fifties. His parents rented the house to my grandmother right behind his house on First Street. Bobby and I hiked around the Lakewood Lake many times. I played my first Monopoly game with Bobby.
    I sure remember that Bobby loved his baseball. I played catch with Bobby and Barry Axel. Very sad to read about the passing of my friend from over fifty years ago.. I will never forget Bobby Ambrose.. .

    • Evan,
      Thanks for your kind words about Dad. In fact, I know a little something about this, as we both went to Lakewood about a year or so before his passing. That day, Dad took me to where he grew up and did mention your name and the renting of the room.

      Also, I can remember so many times picking up the Pine Needle 1960 yearbook and going through it. It was something to see my father with no facial hair and a hair full of Vitalis or Brylcream. Ah, that old Hollywood-style look of the 50’s.

      It’s great to hear from you, and I wish you and your family the very best this Thanksgiving.

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