John W. Ambrose Jr., 83: Professor loved his profession

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TOPSHAM — John W. Ambrose Jr., 83, died Nov. 7.

Ambrose was born to Vivian and John W. Ambrose Sr. on Jan. 23, 1931, in Grafton, Massachusetts. He attended St. John’s Preparatory School in Worcester, Massachusetts, and went on to receive bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in classics from Brown University. Further studies took him to Princeton University, the University of Chicago and the American School of Classical Studies in Rome and Athens.

While reading for his doctorate at Brown, Ambrose met Frances (Petey) McKillop. The two were married in 1961 in Laconia, New Hampshire.

Ambrose began his teaching career at Roxbury Latin School, followed by assignments at Phillips Andover Academy and The Taft School. For 20 summers, he also taught and served as dean of students at St. George’s Summer School in Middletown, Rhode Island.

In 1966, Ambrose began his 34-year career as professor of classics at Bowdoin College. In 1977, he was named the Joseph E. Merrill Professor of Greek. Ambrose served as president of the Classical Association of New England, and was published extensively.

His friends and family remember Ambrose for his sense of humor, his dedication to teaching, his love of tennis and his gentlemanly charm.

Ambrose was invited to deliver the convocation speech to the Bowdoin Class of 2002. As he concluded his remarks, he summarized his love of his profession by saying, “I’m a professor and can’t imagine enjoying any form of work as much as teaching bright young men and women.”

Ambrose was an active member of St. Charles Borromeo Church, serving as a frequent lector and president of the parish council that planned and built the current church.

He is survived by Petey, his wife of 53 years; two sons; John W. Ambrose III, of Hampton, New Hampshire, and Matthew R. Ambrose, of Brunswick; his grandsons, Tyler, Benjamin, and Justin; his brother, Richard Ambrose, of Green Bay, Wisconsin; his sister, Vivian Bullard, of South Grafton, Massachusetts; his sister-in-law, Mary Ann Kramer, of Melbourne, Florida; and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his youngest son, Peter Ambrose.

A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated Nov. 14 at St. Charles Borromeo Church, All Saints Parish.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Ambrose’s memory may be made to the church, at 132 McKeen St., Brunswick, ME 04011.

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