William Ambs—4/8/2017

William Joseph Ambs passed away quietly in the early hours of April 8, 2017 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Bill was 87 years old, born in Philadelphia, the eldest of four children of Herman and Geraldine Ambs. He was an alumnus of Roman Catholic High School, Villanova, Stevens Institute of Technology and Catholic University of America.

Bill was married to his beloved wife Edith Marie Ambs for almost fifty years before her death in 2007. They were predeceased by their little son Stephen William Ambs in 1965. Surviving is their daughter Caroline Niesley who with her husband Charlie were Bill’s caregivers. Bill was predeceased by his parents and his sister Kathleen McGarvey. Bill is survived by his sister Rita Mary Guy, his brother Robert F. Ambs and his wife Jean. He is also survived by his brother in law Leonard McCoy and many nieces and nephews.

A Dr. of physical chemistry, Bill worked for the National Bureau of Standards, Air Products, General Electric and Lockheed Martin. An early publication of Bill’s (1952) contained the first mention of the possibility of a molecule with a knot in it, cited in the European Journal of Organic Chemistry, in October 2008. When Bill came to live in Lansdale he became a member of St. Stanislaus Church and a dedicated Eucharistic adorer for the Mother Katharine Drexel Adoration Chapel. Bill was a member of the parish prayer line and volunteered to assist those studying for the RCIA.

Bill had an earnest and enigmatic smile and was known for his interesting conversations on science, math, medicine and faith.

The family will receive friends at St. Stanislaus Church, 51 Lansdale Avenue, Lansdale, Pa 19446 on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 from 10 AM to 11AM. The funeral Mass of Dr. Ambs will be celebrated at 11AM. Internment at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery 1600 Sproul Road in Springfield, Delaware County.

Flowers are most welcome. For those wishing instead to make a contribution to charity in his memory donations may be made to:


Good Counsel, Inc., P.O. Box 6068, Hoboken, NJ 07030

4 thoughts on “William Ambs—4/8/2017

  1. I was fortunate to know Bill. I extend my sympathy to the family. Bill is a fine person and I always enjoyed talking with him. May he Rest in Peace with our Lord Jesus Christ.

    • Thank you Susan for your love and your friendship over the years. Your kind words and prayers are most appreciated.

  2. I want to extend my condolences to Bill’s family. I really enjoyed corresponding with Bill back in 2008 about his proposal of molecular knots when he was an undergraduate at Villanova. Last fall’s Nobel Prize in chemistry was given to three chemists who work in this area — chemical topology. One of them, Sauvage, was the first to make Bill’s hypothesis come true 47 years later when he and his coworkers synthesized the first molecular knot in 1989.

    • Thank you Ed for your kind words. My father enjoyed corresponding with you and appreciated recognition for his idea all those years ago.

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