Horizon Hobby CEO remembered as 'visionary leader'


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URBANA — Horizon Hobby is mourning the death of its longtime CEO, Joe Ambrose.

Mr. Ambrose, who died unexpectedly Friday at age 61, joined the Champaign-based company in 2005 as vice president of distribution after spending 20 years as a corporate lawyer in Bloomington.

A graduate of the University of Illinois, Mr. Ambrose became Horizon's CEO in 2008 and led the company's purchase of its crosstown rival after Hobbico filed for bankruptcy in 2018.

Mr. Ambrose was also a director of First Busey Corp. since 1993.

First Busey Chairman Greg Lykins, who also sits on the Horizon board, called Mr. Ambrose an "amazing human being and visionary leader."

"Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Joe have lost a dear friend and inspiring mentor," Lykins said.

Born in 1957 in Peoria, Mr. Ambrose moved to LeRoy with his family in 1967, where he met his future wife, Julie.

He and his wife traveled around the world, according to his obituary, visiting 20 countries, Walt Disney World and their grandchildren.

He is survived by his wife in Mahomet, along with four children, eight grandchildren and four siblings.

A funeral service will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Calvert-Belangee-Bruce Funeral Home in LeRoy. Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.