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Chambersburg School Board member Ambrose dies

November 30, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. ? The Christmas Eve death of Chambersburg School Board member Paul Ambrose leaves two vacancies in less than a month, following the Dec. 6 resignation of former board president Craig Musser.

Ambrose, 69, of 1872 Philadelphia Ave., was the district's Region 1 director, representing Greene Township west of U.S. 11, and Letterkenny and Lurgan townships. He died Sunday night at Chambersburg Hospital, according to his obituary.

"It was a shock to get that call," Board President Thomas Orndorf said. "He was a great community leader. Very dedicated to making a difference. I liked him. He'll be missed."

Ambrose was elected in November 2005, defeating incumbent Robert Helman. He completed his first full year on the board at the beginning of December.

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"I thought he was a great guy. I really never knew him before he came on the board, but I knew who he was," board member Stanley Helman, Robert Helman's brother, said Tuesday. "He became a good friend."

"He was a very detailed person who did a tremendous amount of research before making a decision," Helman said. "I think he did an excellent job on the board."

Ambrose attended last week's board meeting during which the eight members deadlocked over whom to appoint to fill the seat of Musser, who had represented Region 9 in Chambersburg for seven years and had been board president for two years.

The board also has been split on other issues in the past year, including whether to build a new high school or renovate the existing 50-year-old building. Ambrose was among the five who voted earlier this year for renovating Chambersburg Area Senior High School and expanding the career and technology program, a reversal of policy from 2004, when the board voted to incur debt for a new school.

Three people applied for the Region 9 position, but Anne Gotwals Boryan and Harold Fosnot Jr. each received four votes on three separate ballots. The board agreed to extend the application period to Jan. 2, and scheduled another vote for Jan. 3.

"I hope there is someone we can agree on to fill Craig's position," Helman said. If the vacancy is not filled next week, a Court of Common Pleas judge will make the selection.

With the death of Ambrose, the district now has another deadline looming, Padasak said. The board must fill the Region 1 vacancy by Jan. 25, or the appointment also would fall to a judge, he said.

Ambrose, a political science professor at Shippensburg (Pa.) University for 30 years before retiring in 2002, served on the Finance and Judiciary committees of the school board and was its representative on legislative matters, Helman said.

"He always tried to find solutions for them, instead of just shoving them out of the system," Padasak said of Ambrose's approach to dealing with students coming before the Judiciary Committee.

"When he was assigned to a task, he would dig into it very deeply," Padasak said. Ambrose occasionally would meet with district officials, seeking detailed answers to questions he had, Padasak said.

"He was a big proponent of the tech center," Padasak said, referring to the Franklin County Career and Technology Center. "He addressed the issue of quality education for those students."

Prior to his service with the school board, Ambrose had been a Greene Township supervisor for 11 years, stepping down during the last year of his second term, said Dave Jamison, chairman of the township's Board of Supervisors.

"He was an educated man, and he reviewed problems and took positions that he felt were in the best interest of the township," Jamison said. "We had our differences, but a lot of times we agreed on things."

During his years on the board of supervisors, Ambrose led opposition to Exit 17 of Interstate 81, Jamison said. The project was delayed for years by litigation and other challenges, but eventually was built.

"I admired his dedication to public causes. You knew where he stood, and he was always fighting for those causes he believed in," Musser said. At the same time, Ambrose "was willing to listen to everybody," he said.

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