OBITUARIES FOR SUNDAY, JULY 22, 2001
CHARLES ANDREW ARMSTRONG
Retired Meridian High Principal
Funeral services for Charles A. Armstrong, 82, will be held Saturday, July 28, at 10 a.m. at First Baptist Church. The Rev. Raymon Leake will be officiating, with burial in the Masonic Cemetery in Newton. Visitation will be Friday, July 27, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Barham Funeral Home.
Armstrong, who died peacefully at home July 20, is survived by his wife of 59 years, Margaret Holladay Armstrong, Meridian; children, Charles Andrew, Jr., "Andy" and Dorothy Armstrong, Newton; Robert Lloyd "Robby" and Margery Armstrong, Tulsa, Okla.; Kathryn Faye, "Kathy" and Levi Griffin, Wichita, Kan.; and Mary Susan and David Schoket, Wichita, Kan.; ten grandchildren, Ken Armstrong, La Place, La.; Rob Armstrong, Jacksonville, Fla.; Amy Ethridge, Collinsville; Andrew Armstrong, Tulsa, Okla.; Amalia Kuhn, Tulsa, Okla; Marlena Kuhn, Tulsa, Okla; Cody Griffin, Wichita, Kan.; Charlie Schoket, Wichita, Kan.; Martin Schoket, Wichita, Kan.; and Adam Griffin, Niceville, Fla.; and eight great-grandchildren, Eric Armstrong, La Place, La.; Ricky Armstrong, La Place, La.; Kristy Armstrong, La Place, La.; Brandon Sheetz, Jacksonville, Fla.; Smokey Ethridge, Collinsville; Colby Ethridge, Collinsville; Haley Daniels, Niceville, Fla.; and Kelsey Daniels, Niceville, Fla.
He is also survived by his in-laws, Mary Ruth and Paul Mobley, Paris, Tenn.; Myra Gulledge, Natchitoches, La.; and Ann Holladay, Ruleville; and several nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents, Luther and Mace Armstrong; his sister Faye Coit; and brothers James Armstrong and Lloyd Armstrong.
A man who touched many lives in Meridian, Armstrong was born in Hickory and spent his early years in Newton. He started playing football at a young age in Little League, a love that continued with him throughout his life. He graduated from Newton High School.
He went to Mississippi College, where he received a degree in Physical Education in 1941. While at Mississippi College, he played varsity football and was named to the All Dixie Conference in 1939 and 1940. He was the No. 1 Kicker in 1939 and led the conference in scoring in 1940.
In 1942, Armstrong married his high school sweetheart and next-door-neighbor, Margaret Holladay. He then spent four years of active duty in the U.S. Navy during World War II, beginning as a Chief Specialist in athletics and Platoon Commander. He finished his tour as a Gunnery Officer on an LST in the Pacific Theater.
Football continued to be a passion, and Armstrong played with the old New York Yankees after the War. This American League football team changed names during his time as a member, becoming the Brooklyn Dodgers.
After obtaining a Masters in Physical Education from the University of Alabama and leaving professional football, Armstrong became the Head Coach at Brookhaven High School in 1951. While there, he led the Brookhaven Panthers to the Big Eight Conference Championship. In 1952, he coached the South for the Mississippi High School All Star Team. He was named Brookhaven's Young Man of the Year in 1952.
Armstrong came to Meridian in 1953 as the Head Coach and Athletic Director of the Boys Physical Education Department at Meridian High School. In 1956, he took on the duties of Bursar as well. At this
time, Meridian High School had 14 grades, the 13th and 14th actually the future Meridian Community College. During this time he completed a Specialists Degree in Education at the University of Southern Mississippi.
In 1960, Armstrong became the head of Meridian Junior College while it was still a part of MHS. When MJC moved down the road to Highway 19 in 1964, Armstrong stayed at MHS as principal. It is during the years as principal of MHS, from 1964 until his retirement in 1980, that "Charlie A" became a mentor to countless teachers and children and steered MHS to become one of the top high schools in Mississippi, both academically and in sports. He was instrumental in the peaceful integration of the Meridian Public Schools in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Armstrong was actively involved in education both in Meridian and throughout the state. He served with the Mississippi Association of Secondary Schools, part of the time as president. In 1971, he was named the Educator of the Year by the Freedoms Foundation; in 1971-72, he served as President of the Council of Public Schools; in 1979 he received both the "Boss of the Year" award from the Meridian Chapter of the Mississippi Association of Educational Office Personnel and the Meritorious Child Advocate Award from the International Youth Council. He also received the Outstanding Service to Education Award from Meridian Junior College.
His prowess in football has not gone unheralded. As the founder and charter member of the Mississippi Association of Coaches, Armstrong has been inducted into the Coaches Hall of Fame and received a Distinguished Service Award. Armstrong is also an inductee of the Mississippi College Sports Hall of Fame for both football and baseball in 1937-1941.
Armstrong was active in community life. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Meridian, serving as President in 1978-79. He worked with the Boy Scouts, the Lauderdale County Mental Health Association and helped with Meals on Wheels for many years.
A faithful member of First Baptist Church of Meridian, Armstrong served on the Board of Deacons and as its president. He was a member of the Baracas Sunday School Class.
Pallbearers for the July 28 service will be R.D. Harris, Mac Barnes, Bob Turnage, Bob Jeffares, Steve Johnson and Charles Roberts. Honorary pallbearers will be members of the Baracas Sunday School Class and Deacons of First Baptist Church.
A memorial fund was established in Charles Armstrong's name at Meridian Community College, the Charles A. Armstrong Scholarship Endowment. The family requests memorials be made to this endowment, First Baptist Church or a charity of your choice.