October 24, 2014
Greetings from Tyler,
This has been an extraordinary week. The funeral for my Mom, Mrs. Shirley Armstrong was held Wednesday, with a memorial service at Croley Funeral Home in Gladewater, Tx, the town where Mom went to High School and made lots of memories. It was officiated by her brother-in-law, David Antion, who is married to her sister Molly and has known Mom since she was a young wife and mother. Also speaking briefly were my Aunt Lois Chapman, my Son Michael and myself. Everyone said it was a fitting tribute to her, if such a thing is possible.
Following the grave-side committal ceremony, a reception was held back here at the HQ auditorium, decorated for the occasion, including lots of photographs from every era of Mom’s life.
Many from our extended family were here along with friends and acquaintances from all over. As we knew already, Mom made a distinctive and memorable impression on just about everybody who ever met her.
The fact that she’s gone is still sinking in, and left us wondering what we’ll do without her. What we will do is carry on “steady at the rudder” as she used to advise, to continue to do the work that was such a part of her life. Below is a brief encapsulation of her life and times. We made up a brochure of photographs that we’ll include in the next monthly letter.
You can imagine, we’ve been deluged with flowers and cards and phone calls, all expressing love and respect for the unique lady she was. Our thanks go out to all of you who are suffering her loss with us.
Shirley Ann Armstrong
March 12, 1935 – October 16, 2014
Shirley Ann Hammer was born March 12, 1935 to Roy and Pearl Hammer, the sixth in a family of eight children. She had wonderful childhood memories from the skating rink her “Daddy” built with the help of her older brothers on the shore of the Big Sandy Lake, with a swimming area, diving tower and the hamburger and soft-drink concession she helped operate as a young girl. She also loved telling stories about being taken by her older sisters to one or the other old churches in Big Sandy, and later in her teen years of how one of her girlfriends had cracked them all up during services and attracted the ire of the preacher.
She went to High School in Gladewater, Texas where she was a cheerleader and was voted “Cutest Girl” by popular vote. When she married Garner Ted Armstrong and was about to depart for southern California, a High School girlfriend typed up this poem.
From White Oak little Shirley came,
She brought her looks which brought her fame,
With both girls and boys she made a hit,
but to some teachers she gave a fit,
She ran for Carnival Queen one year,
Just why she didn’t win isn’t clear,
However, Cutest Girl, she did get
About the other, she didn’t fret,
Shirley, a stately senior now,
In a very short time will take her vow
To love and obey Ted forevermore,
And make her home on the California shore,
Her smile and liveliness we shall miss,
But we know she will live in happiness,
So, goodbye Shirley, we shall miss you a lot,
May the stork bring to you many a tot!
She was the mother of three boys, two of whom were born profoundly deaf. She raised them to be well-adjusted and independently capable. She was fiercely loyal to her family and to God, a selfless lady who put everybody else first, who carried herself with dignity and humility, and went way out of her way to make sure everything was just right.
She went to extreme lengths in the care of her Mother, Pearl Hammer in her latter years, and always set an example of great character and kindness even under the most difficult of circumstances. It would be impossible to overstate the role she played in the life and career of her husband, Garner Ted Armstrong. She was crazy about him, and sure she’d landed the best catch of all time.
She was instrumental in the founding of the GTA-EA and the ICG, serving on both Boards of Directors from the beginning. She’s the one who located the property where the Headquarters offices reside. When construction progress ground to a halt while the interior remained unfinished, it was she who found another crew, pitched in daily and saw the building through to completion.
Even as her health began to deteriorate in recent years, she continued to travel to fulfill invitations for Church visits all around the country. When offered a wheelchair ride through large and busy airports, she said, “No, it’ll do me good to walk,” and she did.
Mom was precious, sweet and kind even as daily necessities became a struggle in recent months. She never failed to say “please,” “thank-you,” and “I don’t know what I’d do without you.” Probably, the wealth of wonderful memories she left behind is just beginning to flood over us. She gave us a lifetime’s worth, and it’s hard to believe she’s gone. May her influence and example live on for generations to come.
Parents: Roy Seth and Ida Pearl Hammer
Brothers and Sisters: Buck Hammer
Sons: Mark, David and Matthew Armstrong
Grandchildren: Michael Armstrong, married to Melody Armstrong
Sonja Armstrong Covey, married to Matt Covey