James Edward Ambrose, 87, husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather, died very peacefully at MidMichigan Medical Center on August 7, after a short battle with leukemia. He was born on November 5, 1932 in Bronx, NY to Louis Benvenuto and Nora Agnes (Carey) Ambrose. His younger brother Richie settled in Las Vegas, NV.
Jim grew up in the Bronx and graduated from Cardinal Hayes HS in 1950. He married Mary P Mohan, also of the Bronx, at the Immaculate Conception Church, on June 28, 1953. They celebrated 67 colorful years of marriage. He served honorably in the US Navy during the Korean War, an interesting choice for a guy with motion sickness. He worked for General Electric for 25 years and then for Panasonic Corp. until his retirement in 1997.
Jim and Mary had seven children: Mare (Sandwich, MA), James (Ruidoso, NM), Jeanine (Gray, TN), Laura (Midland, MI), Christine (Ft. Lauderdale, FL), Christopher (Cooper City, FL) and Daniel (Coatesville, IN). As his sales career grew, so did their addresses, ping-ponging from Edgewater Park, NY to the Midwest to New England to New Jersey, finally retiring in Florida because he loved the sun and wanted to be near the two Chrisses. They spent many years traveling the world enjoying cruises, railroad excursions, cultural tours, and even a serenaded taxi tour of the Isle of Capri, Italy.
Jim was a natural entertainer. Where there were people, Jim saw an audience. He was always the life of the party. He entertained the kids and grandkids, singing songs with the ukulele like “A You’re Adorable”, “Picnic Time for Teddy Bears”, “I Wanna Girl “and “Danny Boy”. After he donned a bandana and crooned like the iconic country singer, the legend of “One Finger Willie” was born. He sang the Japanese National Anthem at a Panasonic sales meeting to clinch a sale. And in his final week in the hospital, he entertained the nursing staff, singing an aria from the Phantom of the Opera. When he wasn’t singing, he was dancing with brides or antagonizing sports rivals with his collection of baseball caps.
He was a gourmand especially enjoying family holiday meals, although his favorite guilty pleasures were good old fashioned Tootsie Rolls, Starbursts, jelly beans and Oreos.
Jim understood people and knew how to win them over. He could feign Italian among Italians and German among Germans. He played tennis with the pros, golf with low-handicappers and racquetball with champions. He wasn’t afraid to try anything. His real joy was spending time with his seven kids, his thirteen grandkids and his eight great grandkids, two with whom he shares a birthday, Shawn and William. And, there are more on the way. He is loved and will be dearly missed.
A celebration of life ceremony will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, Papa would be proud for you to sing a song out loud or make someone smile. To make a donation please consider the Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx or the American Cancer Society.
Smith-Miner Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Ambrose family; to share a special memory please visit www.smithminer.com.