photo of table with red table cloth and senter runner with pears, apples and pineapple
photo of table with red table cloth and senter runner with pears, apples and pineapple
Restored and decorated c1721 room at the Penrose Strawbridge House

In Memoriam | Tom Ambler

HPHA is saddened again with the loss of another good friend and active supporter of the organization, Tom Ambler of Grindleton.

from Montgomery Newspapers:

Thomas Sayre Ambler of Ambler, PA died suddenly at his home "Grindleton" on March 5th,2014 at the age of 98. He is survived by his wife, Patricia Pulrang Ambler, to whom he had been married for 63 years, and two sons, Jonathan and his wife, Peggy, in Lancaster County and David and his wife Holly, in Cambridge, MA, and five grandchildren.

He was the son of Margareta Quick Ambler and Howard Muir Ambler. He was born at home in 1915, in the "Henry House", Germantown, and lived there until 1940, when his family moved to the home "Grindleton" where he lived the rest of his life.

His Quaker forbearers came to Philadelphia at the time of William Penn. He was a life-long Friend (Quaker) and was a conscientious objector during WWII. He attended Temple and the University of Pennsylvania and took part in development of blood preservation for medical transfusion use at the Medical School of the University of Pennsylvania before becoming a science teacher at Chestnut Hill Academy. He also taught science at Unami Junior High School in Chalfont before retiring.

As a member of the Religious Society of Friends he clerked committees at the Monthly, Quarterly and Yearly level. At his death, he was the oldest member of the Corporation of Haverford College and was still clerking the Bible Association of Friends in America. Thomas was one of the last recorded ministers in the Religious Society of Friends. Recording recognized Friends whose ministry was considered especially gifted, a practice that has since been dropped by the Society of Friends.

Dendrology (the study of trees) was his special interest and he had a mini arboretum on his grounds at "Grindleton". In 1977 he took a 6 month sabbatical to work at Kew Royal Botanical Gardens in London, which also tied into his enduring interest in things British. (note - Tom was happy to take visitors to Grindleton around the property and providing them with detail bios of every bush and tree on the property).

Major hobbies included cricket, steam railroads and early Philadelphia history. He was a member of the C. C. Morris Cricket Association located at Haverford College and for 40 years refereed, at his home, an annual cricket game including children as young as 8.

He was also the Treasurer of the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad when it first started, as a steam tourist railroad, and was a founding member of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. He was also a member of the Wiscasset, Waterville, and Farmington Railway museum (narrow gauge) in Maine as well as other railroad associations. He was a member of "Friends of the American Philosophical Society" and numerous other historical societies in Philadelphia, the suburbs and Maine.

He summered on the North Haven and Vinalhaven Thoroughfare in Maine where he enjoyed flower gardening and sailing. Thomas was active and able right up until he died. At 98, he continued climbing a ladder to maintain his antique gas lights that luminated the drive at his home.

In keeping with Tom's wish, there will be no memorial service. Private family interment was the 16th of March at Germantown Friends Meeting. Thomas was buried in a coffin built by his sons with lumber from a dead mature cedar Lebanon tree Thomas had planted about 50 years ago after first being used as a family Christmas tree. Contributions in Tom's memory can be made to Germantown Friends Meeting, 47 West Coulter Street, Phila, PA 19144 or Haverford College, 370 W. Lancaster Ave., Haverford, PA 19041.

Tom was a neighbor of mine for a while and I remember going for a visit and seeing Tom, at the age of 97, coming round the house on his tractor dressed in a tweed jacket and bow tie. After introducing me to each tree and bush on the property, we found we had a mutual interest in Mount Moriah Cemetery in Southwest Philadelphia, near where I grew up and where Tom had family interred. Mount Moriah was built in 1865 but had been on hard times as long as I could remember. I told Tom of a new group that was working to restore the cemetery, and he hopped in his car, paid them a visit, and made a contribution. {Kevin Winters}

We will miss you Mr. Ambler.

We are a Community Benefit Organization!