Michael Ambrose Sr., a longtime official at the U.S. Children’s Bureau, was remembered in Washington, D.C., earlier this month as a man who had trekked to many of the nation’s great physical heights in search of adventure, yet remained decidedly down to earth during his 82 years.
According to a remembrance on legacy.com, Ambrose was active in some of the seminal moments of the civil rights and anti-war movement of the 1960s before embarking on civil service career that he considered a calling.
In his professional career, Ambrose served in senior positions in the Children’s Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services, including deputy commissioner of the bureau. Among his proudest accomplishments was his involvement in the launch of Head Start, the Johnson administration program that provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and families.
An inveterate traveler, Ambrose touched all the continents, climbed 40 of the 50 U.S. high points, summited Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro and trekked to Machu Picchu. He married Sharon Connelly Ambrose, the late D.C. council member, with whom he had four children. She died in 2017.
No one gets through life unscathed, and one of Ambrose’s trials was an addiction to alcohol. But his family said he was grateful to AA for 45 years of sobriety.
“Dad was rooted in Chicago, but he grew in D.C.,” daughter Peggy Ambrose Franzen said during his eulogy at St. Peter’s on Capitol Hill in Washington, which was streamed on Facebook on Feb. 9, a week after he died peacefully surrounded by family members. “He believed in the dignity of every individual. He showed us the right path. He showed us the just path. He taught us to be good humans. And yet for all his cosmopolitan adventures, what he longed for the most was a simple cup of coffee, a paper and some good weather to enjoy it in.”