John W. Ambrose, 1965-1966
John W. Ambrose, 1965-1966

John “Jack” Wheatley Ambrose was a native of Monongahela, Washington County, Pennsylvania, where he was born on
December 20, 1923. His family resettled in Lexington around 1928. He attended school at the old Johnson Elementary School, Lexington Junior High School, and Henry Clay High School (graduating in June 1941). After graduation, he enrolled in UK as a mechanical engineering student and worked part-time with his father at the Lexington Spring Service.
His studies were interrupted when he volunteered for military service with the Coast Guard during World War II. After the war, he returned to Lexington and reentered UK. He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in commerce in 1948.  His educational career began as principal of Pisgah Elementary School in Woodford County from 1950 to 1952. In 1952, he became a math teacher at Morton Junior High School and a part-time employee in the business office. He was known as a strong disciplinarian for students who cut up in his class. He received a master of arts degree in education from UK in 1953. In 1959, he was appointed finance officer and treasurer for the Lexington City Schools.
In 1966, he was appointed acting superintendent of the Lexington City Schools. He served in that capacity until the merger the next year with the Fayette County School System. After the merger, he became the deputy superintendent of the Fayette County Schools. In 1971, his title was changed to assistant superintendent. He guided the local schools during the period that the two systems were merged (1967), when the consolidated system was desegregated (1968 to 1973), during the teachers’ strike (1970), and when all existing facilities were either constructed or extensively rebuilt. He died on December 16, 1981. After his death, the old City School Administration Building was renamed the John W. Ambrose Building by the school board.