Obituary of Thom Wesley Armstrong
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Thom Wesley Armstrong May 14, 1929 – January 13, 2023 Thom Wesley Armstrong (or Wes as he was commonly known), was born at Emanuel Hospital in Portland, Oregon, on May 14, 1929, to J. Thom and Vivian C. Armstrong. At an early age, the family moved from Portland to Prune Hill in Camas, Washington. He attended school in Camas and was in the class of 1947. He excelled in football as a tight end while under the direction of Coach Clay Fox. At the age of 14, he went to work as a welder for the Kaiser Shipyards in Vancouver during World War II. In 1946, Wes quit school and joined the United States Army on May 17, 1946. After basic training he shipped off for Europe, and spent three years in Bad Homburg, Germany, during the American occupation. Bad Homburg was the headquarters of various administrative bodies and authorities. It was there where Wes distinguished himself with General Joseph McNarney, the military governor of occupied Germany, who had replaced General Dwight D. Eisenhower as commanding general of the U.S. Forces in the European Theatre and commander-in-chief of U.S. Forces of Occupation in Europe. In addition to his duties as a guard and theatre manager, Wes became a courier for the general, and those who succeeded McNarney, and made regular trips to Frankfurt in the jeep that had been provided to him to get issues of the Stars and Stripes newspaper. Wes loved his time in Germany, dating the ladies, riding his motorcycle, swimming, and diving. His last year in the army was spent at Ft. Lewis, Washington, where he performed duties with the 51st Army Postal Unit as a postal clerk and worked in the post locator officer. On one of his leaves back home from Ft. Lewis, he met the young woman who would become the love of his life, Doris Darlene Skadsen from Prune Hill. On May 16, 1950, he was honorably discharged from the army. Wes and Doris, or Queenie as he called her, were married on October 1, 1950, and moved into the self-contained back unit of the Champion service station that he ran (now the site of Young’s Market in the Forest Home neighborhood of Camas). After a little longer than a year, Wes sold the station and went to work for the Crown Zellerbach Paper Mill in Camas, and the family moved to a house on N.W. 6th Street in Camas. For most of the twelve or so years that he was with the the paper mill, he worked on the big machines in the laminating division. While young, he and Queenie travelled the circuit of dirt track motorcycle racing in the west from Canada to Mexico. Having acquired a GED in the army, and subsequently granted a Camas High School diploma in 1959, Wes, along with his brother-in-law, decided to take classes at Clark College in Vancouver. This was the beginning of the transition of him from paper mill worker to educator. While attending college classes, he balanced the demands of college studies with the need to earn money for the family by working varied shifts at the mill, and even going on the extra board for work. He graduated from Clark College in 1962 with an associate degree. After considerable thought he decided he would pursue his college studies and become a teacher. For two years he attended what was then known as Western Washington State College in Bellingham, Washington. While taking classes at WWSC, he supported himself by working at a large service station in Bellingham that also had a large U-Haul truck and trailer business. It was at this time that the family re-located from Camas to Portland, while Doris worked in the drug departments at various Fred Meyer stores. In 1965, Wes received his baccalaureate in secondary education social studies (subsequently, he did a fifth year at PSU) His first full-time teaching position was at Gales Creek School, where he taught multiple subjects, coached the basketball team, and performed other duties. In order to cut down the commute time, the family moved from Portland to Hillsboro; however, after one year, the family moved back to Portland, and Wes continued the commute to Gales Creek, and then to Cornelius when Forest Grove absorbed the Gales Creek School District. For the greater part of his educational career, Wes taught U.S, History at Forest Grove High School, where he thrived. He was considered an excellent teacher by faculty and administrative colleagues, as well as students. He also was respected for his classroom management skills. At one point, eldest son Thom was working as an history and geography teacher at Neil Armstrong Jr. High School while commuting from Portland, Wes was at the high school and commuting from Portland, and Thom’s future wife, Cheryl, was an elementary music teacher at two schools in Forest Grove. In 1990, Wes and Queenie left their home of twenty years in N.E. Portland and relocated in Gresham across from the baseball field at Mt. Hood Community College. In 1991, Wes retired from teaching at the Forest Grove School District. He and Doris attended First Baptist Church in Gresham, and enjoyed their friends with whom they socialized and traveled. Before and after retirement, Wes and Doris traveled several times to Europe, visited son Thom and family in California, and other relatives in Michigan, Texas, Canada, Illinois, and Canada, among others. Wes was dedicated to his family. He was not a “softy,” but he supported many members of his family at one time or another if they were in need. He coached Little League teams, basketball, and other sports in which family were involved. He and Doris often attended graduations, plays, concerts, special events, and many other activities in which family were involved. He was very proud of the athletic, academic, professional, and personal accomplishments of the family. He loved motorcycles, cars, and boats. Many years were spent on the Columbia River with family and friends. Stubborn by nature and heredity, it is fair to say that he lived life, and departed this life, as Frank Sinatra used to sing, “I did it my way.” Wes is survived by his four children: Thom M. (Cheryl) Armstrong of Claremont, CA, John W. (Elaine) Armstrong of Camas, WA, Sheri L. (Doug) Swank of Camas, WA, and Michael K. Armstrong of Portland, OR; grandchildren Nathan, Zach, Michael Ryan, Amanda, Laurie, Cindy, Kevin, and Christopher; various great and great-great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents J. Thom and Vivian C. Armstrong, wife of 60 years Doris D. Armstrong, grandson Todd Armstrong, nephews Craig Skadsen, sister Marian Christianson, and niece Ruth Christianson Riddell. The memorial service will be held in the chapel at Straub’s Funeral Home, 325 N.E. 3rd Ave. in Camas, WA, at 11 a.m.., on Monday, January 23, 2023, followed by a brief graveside ceremony at the Camas Cemetery. A reception will take place afterwards at the One Beer at a Time restaurant and pub on 3rd street close to the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, the family recommends donations in memory of Wes Armstrong to Oregon Human Society, 1067 N.E. Columbia Blvd., Portland, OR 97211To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Thom Armstrong, please visit Tribute Store
Monday, January 23, 2023
Straub's Funeral Home
325 NE 3rd Ave
Camas, Washington, United States
Monday, January 23, 2023
630 NE Oak Street
Camas, Washington, United States
Following the graveside service at A Beer At A Time in Camas.
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Straub's Funeral Home
325 NE 3rd Avenue
Camas, Washington 98607
Phone: (360) 834-4563