Dr. Robert S. Ambrose
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.