Casey Ambrose Jr. remembers his father as most do, a positive ray of light whose smile lit up a room and whose personality was infectious.
“He always was the guy with a smile on his face, and until the day he passed he had a positive outlook on life. He would talk to any soul in the room,” said Catholic Central alumnus Casey Ambrose Jr. “I share the same name as him, and it means that much more to me that I live in honor of my father. People tell me I have a great smile like him, and I want to keep smiling because my father was always a “half cup full” type of person and he taught me to be positive even during the hardest times. I’ve carried those lessons with me.”
On the evening of October 31, 2021, Casey Ambrose Sr. lost his battle to a rare blood disease, leaving behind his loving wife, two daughters and son, Casey Ambrose Jr. The magnitude of the tragedy will forever leave a mark on the family and Walled Lake, where Casey Ambrose Sr. served on the city council. Casey, having observed all city council meetings closely over Zoom, was uniquely prepared to fill his father's seat. When Mayor Linda Ackley asked Casey to fulfill his father’s term on the city council, it made Casey the youngest member ever to serve at 21 years old.
“I’ve lived in the city my entire life, and to sit in this seat and what was formerly my father’s seat is a true honor,” said Casey.
On top of becoming the youngest Walled Lake City Council member, Casey is in his senior year at Michigan State University studying human resources management at the Eli Broad School of Business, a helpful career pathway for the son of a long-time business owner. The family business, Casey’s of Walled Lake, is a full-scale restaurant and bar which has been operating for more than 25 years and remains a staple in the community. His mother, as well as his two older sisters, have been tackling the tremendous task of operating the business. Casey is putting his business degree to use before most students do to help his family run the restaurant.
“During the pandemic I signed our restaurant up on various food delivery platforms, which allowed our business to grow exponentially. Next, I focused on our social media accounts. We just hit 1,000 followers in less than two years on Instagram,” Casey stated.
Despite the towering responsibility of being a full-time student, part-time business owner, and newly inducted city council member, all while dealing with the tragic passing of his father, Casey remains humble, confident and joyful – traits he learned from his father and teachings he says learned at Catholic Central.
“I’m grateful to Catholic Central for giving me the courage to fight the hardest when life gets tough,” said Casey. “Catholic Central pushed me out of my comfort zone when I needed it. They taught me how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Lessons that could only prepare me with what I faced recently.”
As for a future in politics? Casey plans to take one day at a time. “It’s a possibility, I will most likely run in 2023 for re-election, but it’s really wherever the road takes me,” shared Casey. One thing he knows for sure is that he wants to live life in honor of his father. “My dad went to Michigan State University and was very proud of me for following in his footsteps. I graduate in the spring, and I will be graduating in honor of him and will continue to live life to the fullest like my dad did.”
For being 21 years old, Casey carries a wealth of wisdom, which he credits to his late father. Casey says that the tragedy, growth, and opportunity he has experienced in these last few months has taught him to be grateful for every day, even the bad ones.
“Enjoy every single moment and everyone in your life,” said Casey. “Everyone in your life is there for a reason. Always have the perspective of a glass half full; once you walk out the door with a smile, you force that habit, and your daily life will start to change. You may not have a struggle right now, but life goes on and things come up, and you will need to go back to the core lessons that your family taught you and what you learned at Catholic Central – to be yourself and, no matter the circumstances, be grateful for every day. Live life with one attitude and that one attitude is to be happy.”
To follow more of Casey’s journey and Casey’s of Walled Lake, visit https://caseysofwalledlake.com and follow the restaurant on Facebook (@caseysofwalledlake and Instagram (@caseysofwalledlake_)