RALEIGH, N.C. — Ambrose Dudley, a retired chief of bureau for The Associated Press, died Saturday after a long battle with cancer. He was 72.

Dudley started at AP in Raleigh in 1963 after two years as news editor of The State Journal of Frankfort in Kentucky.

During his 33-year career at AP, he covered legislatures in North Carolina, Kentucky and Rhode Island, served as broadcast supervisor in North Carolina and South Carolina, and worked as a correspondent in Rhode Island.

He was named news editor in Hartford, Conn., in 1971, and a year later, was named chief of bureau in Hartford. He became bureau chief for North Carolina in 1980, and retired in 1999.

Dudley hired several current staffers in the North Carolina bureau. The people who worked for him said he was especially supportive of helping women rise through the ranks of the wire service.

“Ambrose was an incredibly decent man with a very open spirit that infused his curiosity as a journalist and his style as a manager and AP bureau chief. He found room in his big heart for the many colleagues and professional friends who will miss him dearly,” said Kathleen Carroll, AP’s executive editor.

Dudley loved covering elections and hurricanes, said Sue Price Johnson, who knew him for more than 30 years and took over as bureau chief when Dudley stepped aside.

“His favorite part was getting to talk to the members and find out what was going on in the industry,” Johnson said.

Johnson was one of many staffers who Dudley helped push into bigger roles in the company. She retired as bureau chief for North Carolina and South Carolina in 2009.

“He was unfailingly optimistic throughout all of his illnesses,” Johnson said. “He was such a positive guy.”

Dudley is survived by his wife, Alice; two sons, Greg and Chris, their wives and five grandchildren.

Funeral services were scheduled Thursday at North Raleigh United Methodist Church with visitation immediately following the ceremony.