Mr. Ernest "Butch" Alton Armstrong
July 23, 1942 – August 31, 2018
The Legacy of Ernest Alton Armstrong
With sorrow for the world’s loss of a loving soul - but with joyful celebration of his life, his legacy, and the end of his suffering - we announce the death of Ernest Alton Armstrong early in the morning of August 31 2018, at the age of 76. His wife of forty years - Arynita Armstrong - and his hospice nurses were with him at his side when he left this world.
Ernie was born on July 23, 1942 - during the second World War - in Galveston Texas to Jewel Elizabeth Armstrong and Ernest Thomas Armstrong - the first of two children, his younger brother being Charles Thomas Armstrong. ‘Butch’ as his family called him - considered his mother’s second husband - Russell Eugene Chandler - or `Daddy Gene` - as his father. Gene was the father of Jewel’s third child - Jean Ann Chandler - Ernie’s sister.
Ernie attended Odessa High, but finished at Permian High School and graduated in the first class in 1960. His name can been seen on the panther to this day, and he proudly wore his high-school ring throughout his life.
Ernie joined the United States Air Force on July 18 1961, at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi Mississippi. After basic training headed to K. I. Sawyer Air Force Base near Marquette Michigan where he intended to become a black-box specialist, but was tapped to attend cooking school instead. He was stationed at Pforzheim Air Base in the Black Forest of Germany.
Ernie often talked about how he enjoyed his time in the Air Force. When he had leave, he toured many European countries with other Airmen - and visited his Uncle A.B - who was also stationed in Europe - and his Aunt JoAnn.
Ernie was honorably discharged in July of 1965 - having obtained the rank of Senior Airman (buck sergeant).
Ernie was headstrong and intelligent. He was an attractive, charismatic man with a charming smile - and he was liked by many of the people he met, though he tended to make friends that shared mutual interests. He had a smart, witty sense of humor, and he used his piercing eyes and expressive brow to great effect during conversation. Often mischievous, he was always joking and teasing with those around him to no end.
He had a sneeze so loud, it would shake the windows on the house. Ernie had a temper, was sometimes stubborn, and sometimes lacked patience - but he was a kind and loving person. He possessed a good heart as big as Texas - as big as that hat he can be seen wearing above.
He was very proud of his family, and his children - and loved to brag about them when he had the chance.
Ernie was always fascinated by science and technology and loved electronics and radio communications from an early age. He built several radios throughout his life, some from kits he purchased from CQ magazine. He logged the flight of Sputnik 1 satellite in 1957 on his radio, and had the postcard from Russia to prove it. He spent lots of time on his radios when he was young, listening to programming from around the world, and later in life collected radios - now antiques - from his earlier life.
Not surprisingly, he also enjoyed science fiction, and was fascinated with space exploration. Ernie was fascinated by computer technology as it exploded over his long life, and he owned several computers and was part of several computer clubs over the years.
He loved the mountains.
The stories of mountaineering expeditions to reach the peaks of the tallest and fiercest mountains in the world fascinated Ernie - especially stories of the Eiger. He often read stories about the Eiger, K2, and Mount Everest.
He rarely drank - only socially.
He loved cooking good food - 'straight from hell chili' - a good stew - a good rare steak.
He loved watching all of the events of the olympic games.
He loved rooting for the underdog in sporting events - and in life in general - if not able to root for his home team.
He loved the sound of the rain and thunder during a good Texas thunderstorm.
He especially loved the ocean, the beach, and the sounds of the waves.
Ernie married Cheryl Norris shortly after joining the United States Air Force . They had two children, Christian Brooks Armstrong - born in 1966 - and Amy Lynn Armstrong - born in 1971. They later divorced in 1973.
But some years later, Ernie would meet his future wife Arynita Anne Tabor in Odessa Texas. They were soon married on August 25th 1978 at the Church of the Risen Lord in Odessa. Ernie became step-father to Angel Dawn Westover.
Ernie and Arynita had one child - Brian Allan Armstrong, born in 1980.
They would remain married for forty years, having their 40th anniversary just weeks before Ernie died. Ernie had a sister, a brother, and a multitude of nieces - uncles and aunts - and many cousins. Son and daughters in-law, and grandchildren.
Ernie’s career in industrial engineering began after he completed his military service and spanned five decades. He took pride in his work, and he enjoyed getting to work on projects that interested him - especially engineering efforts operating at massive scales. He participated in several industrial, petrochemical, military, maritime, and aerospace projects.
In addition to his naval work for battleships and transport ships, he also worked on several projects for aircraft carriers - including massive helicopter hangar doors, arresting hooks for landing planes, and giant anchors. He even worked on a secret project to develop the equipment needed for the secret recovery of a Russian submarine during the cold war.
In aerospace, some of his projects included components for the NASA space shuttle, composite parts for the original stealth bomber, and refueling systems for KC-135 Tankers.
Working on various industrial projects and military contracts, Ernie changed jobs often, and worked for many different companies in many states, including Baker Hughs, Daniel Industries, Skytop Brewster, LTV, Abar Ipson, Jared Brown Brothers, Crane Industrial, and many more.
Multiple colleagues considered Ernie a mentor - with decades of experience - he had seen a lifetime of diverse projects across multiple industries.
He enjoyed working, and he enjoyed his work. He often said work was therapy for him.
Places He Lived
In the 1940s, Ernie and his family lived in Corrigan and Silbe Texas before moving to Odessa in 1949 where he grew up and attended high school. Joining the U.S Air Force brought him to Biloxi Mississippi, Michigan, and overseas in the Black Forest of Germany.
Because of his line or work, Ernie and his family moved often, living in many cities across the states. In Texas alone he lived and worked in Spring, Tomball, Mesquite, Pinehurst, Conroe, and Willis to name just a few.
In the early 90s, Ernie, Arynita, and Brian moved to Rockford Illinois, where they were able to experience winter - and snow and ice.
Ernie's favorite place he ever lived was Saint Simon’s Island Georgia, where he and Arynita lived by the white sand beaches of the Golden Isles for a total of 12 years.
Final Years As Ernie got into his 70s - failing health, and several medical issues left Ernie confined to a wheelchair. Arynita took care of him until he was no longer able to remain at home, and he eventually required continual medical care.
Ernie suffered various serious medical complications including a heart attack. "Am I going to die?"Ernie asked the doctor. "Yes, you are definitely going to die... But not today..." the doctor replied. So - he survived multiple trips to ICU - a couple times where his family was not sure he would live - before eventually entering managed care where he was diagnosed with a terminal disease, and entered hospice care.
Ernie was thankful for how well his nurses and hospice staff took care of him. Upon mentioning that he wished he could go fishing again, they arranged a fishing trip in his room and he got to catch three perch.
He referred to members of the hospice staff as his guardian angels.
So, Ernie was comfortable - friends and family visited as much as they could. At some points - with little wrinkling in the face, and being fully lucid and mentally active - he and his family managed to forget that he was terminally ill.
He listened to audio books about his favorite mountains. He read magazines about the modern space race, the U.S National Parks, radios, and the 1960s. On his smart phone and iPad, he watched movies, talked and texted with family and friends. He always looked forward to eating the cold watermelon brought by his wife Arynita each day - up until the final days of his life.
Ernie was fully lucid, his mind in tact, until he became gravely ill over the last 48 hours of his life. The family was caught a bit by surprise, because only a few days earlier, he was still operating his smart phone and taking phone calls - but we are grateful that when death came, it came swiftly, sparing him any further suffering.
His family is grateful that his mind, his wit, and his humor stayed with him until the very end until he was ready to go.
Lives on By
Ernie lives on by his wife, Arynita Anne Armstrong, his three children Christian Brooks Armstrong, Amy Lynn Armstrong, and Brian Allan Armstrong. All of his children are married.
We Thank You For Reading This Memorial Tribute
Thank you for reading this memorial tribute and taking the time to remember the life of Ernest Alton Armstrong. If you have any comments or stories you would like to share with his friends and family, please do so. We are so thankful for everyone remembering Ernie and telling us what they remember about him.
This Memorial Fund
The memorial fund at (https://www.gofundme.com/ernest-a-armstrong-memorial-fund) has been setup by Brian Armstrong (Ernie's son) and is intended to help Arynita Armstrong (Ernie's Widow) and immediate family with final expenses, funeral and memorial services costs for celebrating and remembering Ernest Alton Armstrong - through crowd-funding with family and friends. Any proceeds beyond covering those anticipated final costs will be passed onto Arynita Armstrong to help her manage this difficult time and life transition.
If you are able to assist, we thank you and are grateful, but in either case, we thank you for reading and helping in remembering and celebrating in the life of Ernest Alton Armstrong.
Memorial Service Details for Ernest Alton Armstrong
Funeral Service for Ernest Alton Armstrong will be held at American Heritage Funeral Home - in Houston Texas - on October 5th 2018 at 11:00AM-12:00PM.
Family and friends are invited to arrive early for viewing and visitation. Coffee and light snacks will be provided.
The Funeral Home is located at: 10710 Veterans Memorial Dr. Houston, Texas 77038
Immediately following the service, Ernie's ashes will be buried - with military honors - at the Houston National Cemetery on October 5th 2018 at 12:30PM.
The cemetery is located next to the funeral home: 10410 Veterans Memorial Dr Houston TX 77038
- Go Fund Me
Celebration of Life
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
American Heritage Funeral Home
10710 Veterans Memorial Drive
12:15 pm - 12:45 pm
Houston National Cemetery
10410 Veterans Memorial Drive
Mr. Ernest "Butch" Alton Armstrong
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Sherry (Knox) Fewin
September 15, 2018
My sincere condolences to Ernie’s family. He was a kind, caring individual who was always a loyal friend. I met him as a 15 yr old girl and was totally enthralled with his good looks, charm, and terrific sense of humor. He was my first real boyfriend. Our friendship survived almost 60 years as we reconnected on Facebook a few years ago. We thoroughly enjoyed sharing family updates, catching up on old friends and discussing the “the good ole days.” He could still make me laugh or bring a tear to my eye when he sent a song or video my way. I cherish these fond memories.. God Bless this precious soul and peace to the family he loved dearly.