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Posted on Nov 18, 2014
Empty Saddles

Ambrose McAuliffe 1942 - 2014




 Ambrose William McAuliffe passed away suddenly Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, in Klamath Falls, Ore. Ambrose was born Oct. 13, 1942, to Joseph and Leonore McAuliffe in Spokane, Wash. He was raised on the family cattle ranches in Fort Klamath, Ore., and Cottonwood, Calif. Ambrose attended Mercy Academy in Red Bluff, Calif., and Cottonwood Elementary Schools. He graduated high school from Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, Calif. While very appreciative of the Catholic education, Ambrose was most fond of the lasting friendships formed during those years.


Ambrose attended University of California, Davis, for a short time, before returning home to work on the ranch. Ambrose was a lifelong scholar, who enjoyed reading for pleasure and enrichment. He often quoted C.S. Lewis and Stephen Covey during conversations with friends and family, always looking to provoke thought or provide meaning. In 1963, Ambrose met and married Susan Jane Lyons. The relationship began with the sale of a horse and, for 48 years, their marriage revolved around quality horses, cow-dogs, cattle and everything that goes with it. They raised their children, Will and Molly, with the values and traditions that come with a ranching lifestyle. Many other kids and adults were welcomed into the McAuliffe household if they needed a place to stay; all would say that the experience was invaluable.


Families, ranching and rodeo don't exist without comedy, and Ambrose enjoyed laughing while recalling the many funny stories over the years. A cross between a mad scientist and an engineer, Ambrose was always looking to improve or invent solutions to make life and work easier. His projects ranged from motorcycle ramps to eliminate opening gates while irrigating, to a trailer to haul the lead steer used for gathering cattle. He wanted a coffee house at the arena, so he built one and soon became its best customer. Ambrose was a pioneer in the early days of Oregon water issues and led the way for installing fish screens and riparian fencing in the Wood River Valley. His leadership in the formation of Water for Life was critical to its success.

Ambrose was a devout Catholic and his faith carried through in his actions. He was honest, hardworking and generous. He extended his faith to people and animals, always raising his expectations because he believed in their capabilities. In recent years, Ambrose particularly enjoyed sharing his love for rodeo with his granddaughter, Cate, and made sure he was there to watch her compete. One of Ambrose's recent dreams was to bring Rodear competitions to Fort Klamath. He took an existing arena, made the necessary improvements and named it Rodear Arena. Rodear is the Spanish word meaning "to circle." Like many other rodeo events, Rodear evolved from actual ranch work into a competition to display the skills of a cowboy, his horse and his dog. Ambrose kept the arena and the grounds in a constant state of improvement, so that those who traveled to participate in the competitions always felt welcomed. In 2014, Ambrose's Rodear Arena hosted the National Cattledog Association's Best of the West Shootouts. The events were a grand success and left Ambrose with a great sense of pride and accomplishment. That he and his dog, Rebel, made the winner's circle was icing on the cake. His circle was complete.


Ambrose is survived by his children, Will McAuliffe and daughter, Molly Hepper (Gary); grandchildren, Brittain and McKenzie McAuliffe and Cate Hepper; brother, Jack McAuliffe (Heleen); sister, Geneva Toms (Ernie); sister, MaryLee Dickens; brother, Joseph McAuliffe; sister-in-law, Sally Fitzgerald (Con); and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins - this is an Irish Catholic family after all. He cherished too many friendships to list, but rest assured he will pray for you in heaven. Ambrose was predeceased by his wife, Susan, (May 10, 2012) and his parents, Joseph and Leonore McAuliffe. 

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