Longin Bohdan Ambros

Hartland, Vt. — On March 13, 2014, Longin Bohdan Ambros, 90, died at home, among his children, in the Hartland house he built in 1958 with his own hands. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Melissa B. Ambros, and his children; Patrick B. Coughlin of Sunapee N.H., Christopher C. Coughlin (and wife Huguette) of Springfield Vt., Catherine Coughlin Weill (and husband Randall) of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Maria van Beuren of North Haverhill N.H., Victor R. Ambros (and wife Rosalind Lee) of Hanover N.H., Theodore R. Ambros (and wife Andrea) of Hartland, Elizabeth M. Ambros of Hartland, and Thomas M. Ambros (and wife Karen) of Schenectady, N.Y. One child, Michael Coughlin, died in 1969. Other survivors include 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, and four Staszkiewicz nephews, the sons of his sister, as well as a niece and three nephews from Melissa’s family.

Longin’s young life was difficult and dangerous. He was born in a small village in Poland, orphaned at the age of eight, and thereafter raised by relatives. Longin showed academic promise in grade school, and was selected by his teacher to participate in a highly competitive Polish national scholarship program that supported the education of gifted children from rural villages, enabling Longin to attend middle school in a larger town, followed by high school in the city of Vilnius. In 1939, when WWII closed the schools, 15-year-old Longin fled toward the west – away from the Soviets but into the clutches of the Nazis – and spent more than 5 years in forced labor in Germany, before being liberated by the U.S. Army. Longin’s facility with languages – he spoke four languages and Latin – landed him a job with the U.S. Army as an interpreter. He came to the U.S. in 1946, enlisted in the Army, and joined the paratroops. Longin liked to joke that he took off in an airplane 50 or more times before he ever landed in one; he had over 100 jumps to his credit. He became a U.S. citizen in 1953.

After the Army, Longin moved to Hartland and ran a dairy farm through the 1950s and 1960s. He greatly admired his friends and neighbors in the area, and he liked telling stories about his early days in Hartland, where he was introduced to Vermont farming (and dry Vermont wit) by neighbors Clifford and Vivian Best and where he enjoyed the Old World hospitality and wisdom of the Metes/Musat clan. Part of the story Longin’s early days in Hartland is told in the book Melissa wrote called Rough Road Home.

After switching to part-time farming, Longin was for more than 30 years the proprietor of the Old Mill Cabinet Shop in Hartland, which produced custom millwork and fine furniture that he designed and built. After his official retirement from the Old Mill, Longin continued to design and build furniture, to garden (he grew awesome potatoes), to enjoy his dogs (he always had treats for them within easy reach), and to manage his homestead. Despite being forced out of academics, he was a most learned man. Longin loved to read and he had an amazing memory: he could recite long passages from classic novels, even though he’d read the passages only once. Longin was also admired for his beautiful handwriting. Occasionally, people would refrain from cashing his checks, because his signature was so gorgeous.

Longin lives on in the hearts of his large circle of family and friends who love and admire him for his strength, wisdom, and compassion. Born poor, orphaned, hungry, homeless, hunted by the Soviets, enslaved by the Nazis – he came through it all with smile, a joke, impeccable manners, insatiable curiosity, a deep-felt concern for those around him, and never a complaint about his own situation.

There will be a celebration of Longin’s life at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 26, 2014, at the Ambros farm in Hartland. All are welcome. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made in Longin’s memory to VNAVNH, PO Box 976, White River Junction, Vt. 05001, or Aging in Hartland, Box 349, Hartland, Vt. 05048. The Knight Funeral Home in Windsor, Vt. assisted with arrangements.

Condolences may be expressed in an online guest book at www.knightfuneralhomes.com.