In Memory

Douglas G. Armstrong

Douglas G. Armstrong

Lyle and Judy,

Doug passed away yesterday, May 21, 2010,  at 3 pm at Seton Hospital in Austin after a long struggle with leukemia. His brother Gary called me at 10:30 yesterday morning and said Doug was not going to be with us much longer and said he asked to see me. I threw my things in the car and took off for Austin but didn't make it. He died before I could reach the city. Tracie was there and got to seem him for a few minutes before he passed. Tracie said he was not responding very well. He had trouble breathing and his eyes were closed. Doug did manage to squeeze his hand to communicate.

I am waiting to hear from Gary about the funeral arrangements. As soon as I hear something I will let you know so you can post it on the SW website. I know he had many friends who will want to pay their respects to a wonderful human being. I have been in touch with Danny and Janice Femal so they know. Danny contacted Archie Smith and Rod Langford. Hopefully, the word will get out.

All the best,


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05/22/10 02:52 PM #1    

Michael J. Spurlock

Doug always made me smile, not just most of the time, but every single time!  What is best in all of us, he had in abundance.

05/22/10 11:16 PM #2    

Bill DeJong

This news is so sad.

l didn't know Doug well in high school, but I do remember him as one of five guys I got into a fistfight with on a single day in eighth grade. I think I might have had some anger issues to work through, or maybe I was just having a bad day. I wish I'd had a chance to talk with Doug at the reunion so I could have apologized for punching him in the face.

As all of us prepared for the 40th reunion and submitted our profiles, Doug's was one that I read with great interest. I found the pictures of Doug and his family so touching, and it reminded me that, whatever any of us thought of one another in high school, in fact we hardly knew each other at all. My thoughts will be with Doug's family for many, many days.

05/23/10 08:18 AM #3    

Danny Femal

Losing a longtime close friend is a heartbreaking event.  There are so many memories of all the fun times, crazy escapades, and the dependant soul bearing moments that a friendship is built upon.   Doug was one who would so graciously and effortlessly do things that brought joy to peoples lives and helped those who were near him become better human beings.  Like all who were fortunate enough to know him, I will truly miss him. 

05/23/10 05:55 PM #4    

Vonnie Hooks (Grether)

It is sad to loose a friend like Doug, he was a great person and I will miss him.  I named my first son after him and will always appreciate our friendship.  I am so happy that he came to the reunion and we all got to talk to him, see him and hug him.  God Bless Doug and Dougs family.

06/03/10 08:45 AM #5    

Stuart A. Wright


Reflections on a Life-Long Friendship
            Doug Armstrong was my best friend. Our friendship spanned 44 years. The first time I met Doug was through Tracie (Guthrie) when we were freshmen at Spring Woods High School. Doug and I were one of the few freshman who had access to cars. I had just moved to Houston from Tulsa in 1966 and did not know many people at Spring Woods. I found myself suddenly popular among some of the guys when it was learned I could get a car on Friday and Saturday nights and haul around as many as could fit into my 1963 Dodge. Having a car meant liberty to cruise the boulevards, find parties, meet girls, and other unmentionables. Doug offered to share the driving duties in his green Pontiac Bonneville and so we took turns chauffeuring the likes of Tracie, Danny, Archie and occasionally another lucky guy on our escapades. We bonded through some incredible adventures (its amazing we survived). Doug and I became fast friends, although in retrospect, we were a funny pair. Doug was athletic, fearless, fiercely competitive, tenacious, sometimes aggressive and very confident. I was not particularly athletic, definitely not aggressive, and obsessed with girls. 
Doug’s tenacity and stubbornness was legendary, especially after he had been drinking. He loved to argue and when he sensed he was losing the argument, he would just “whip your ass” until you conceded the point. He hated to lose, and I mean at anything. If you beat him in a board game, he would force you to play for hours until he won. I remember one time we had a Monopoly game that lasted three days. He refused to lose and so you would have to keep playing until he won. But that was also part of his charm.
He was even more intensely competitive at sports. I learned early on that when we played pick-up basketball, baseball, football or whatever, I wanted to be on the same side as Doug. His team always won. In high school, he seemed to be the master of his universe and it was an extraordinary journey to be his friend. His self-confidence and gregariousness was contagious.
Sometimes we would even compete for girls but there were different rules to this contest. I remember we both liked Nancy Steele at one point, but he started dating her first so I backed off. There was an unwritten, and I would now say sacred rule that you did not cross that line. Girlfriends were untouchable.  But that did not stop us from pursuing ex-girlfriends (or even girlfriends of guys we didn’t like).
He once told me (years later) that we had become friends because I was the “babe magnet” and made it easier to get girls. I think he was kidding because he never seemed to have any trouble getting girls. I told him that I picked him as a friend because he was so crazy and fearless that nobody would mess with us (I was only half kidding).
Doug’s parents were great; they had a very laissez-faire parenting style. His parents trusted him and pretty much gave him free reign. His bedroom was at the opposite end of the ranch-style house from his parents. It was almost like a separate apartment. His parents rarely wandered back to his room, at least when I was there. Maybe they didn’t want to know what we were up to. His mother was a very gracious and accepting soul. She usually found Doug’s shenanigans funny and she had a healthy sense of humor. It was kind of a live-and-let-live philosophy. I loved spending time at Doug’s.
Doug also charmed my parents, especially my mom. She loved Doug like a son. He could do no wrong in her eyes so it gave us a tremendous amount of freedom to come and go without much parental scrutiny. When I told her Doug died recently, she cried like a baby. She is 80 years old and she still loves him as much as she ever did. She was crushed.
As Doug grew older the tough-guy persona evaporated and he became quite the gentle soul. He had extraordinary patience and affection for his kids. Some of this credit goes to his wife Jill, who is also an extraordinarily patient and gentle person. Doug’s first two children were girls, Julia and Elena. My first two children were also girls, Jenna and Sarah. We spent a lot of time talking, and many times commiserating, about the trials and travails of raising daughters. Doug always kept his sense of humor about the foibles of parenting. We could joke about the awkwardness, about the mistakes made, the frustrations, and the sheer futility. Our young male delusions of invincibility and self-assuredness were totally decimated by the experience of parenting girls. But Doug was totally devoted to his family. And in much the same way he took on all challengers as a young man, he took on all the challenges of parenting with conviction. At times it felt like an endurance contest to parent, especially during the teenage years. It was always comforting to me to talk to Doug about these matters. He was completely empathetic, non-judgmental and could be counted on for some light humor in the face of an ostensible crisis.
We also shared liberal politics and often engaged in one of our favorite sports: Bush-bashing. Doug became more intellectually curious as we grew older. He was always sending me op-ed pieces, or asking me about a book he heard about or had read. We would talk for hours about politics and about how conservative some of our friends had become. We traded books, emailed articles to each other and fantasized about leaving the country during the eight long years of Bush and Cheney in the White House. I remember Doug called me the night Obama was elected and he was ecstatic. We both were. He kept saying over and over, “Can you believe this?” We stayed on the phone during part of Obama’s acceptance speech in Chicago. We knew we were witnessing history and it was truly a remarkable moment.
In 2006, my oldest daughter, Jenna, died of a brain hemorrhage. It was entirely unexpected since she was not ill and had never shown any symptoms. Doug was the first person I called outside the immediate family. I knew he would understand my pain. When I called him, I could hardly manage to speak because I was crying. But he stayed on the phone with me for the longest time. We had a deep connection and I needed to share my grief with someone I could completely trust.
I could not imagine that a few years later, Doug would be the one facing death. When he learned that he had leukemia and the prognosis was not good, he started ending our conversations with, “I love you, man.” He knew his life was ending; the brutal honesty of someone with nothing to lose is disarming. He said it easily and without hesitation. I would say, “I love you too.” And so I do. He was my best friend and I will miss him deeply.
Stuart Wright

06/03/10 03:58 PM #6    

F. Lyle Harris

We have sadly lost another great fellow classmate - Doug Armstrong. He died Friday, May 21, 2010, in Austin Texas after battling leukemia. He will be greatly missed by family, friends and classmates.

For those of you that attended the 40th reunion last May, you were very fortunate to get to see him, as it turns out maybe for the last time. I am very glad that I was able to talk him in to attending. He was in remission at the time and was working very hard to get his printing business back to what he wanted. We spoke on a few phone calls about what it would take to get him to come. After discussions about what he would be missing and what other classmates would miss, he quickly decided to come for the Saturday night event.

Saturday night at the reunion, I personally was very busy like others trynig to keep the event on track. But every time I saw Doug he had the biggest smile on his face. That was special for me.

He will be greatly missed by all that knew him.

Lyle Harris

11/27/13 11:18 AM #7    

Sheila Y. Millender (Kelting)

With the holidays upon us, it always causes me to take a stroll down memory lane.  I was so happy to see Doug at our last reunion as it would be his last.

Don't know if anyone knew this or not but Doug was my "first" the 5th grade. heart   I didn't have a bike but Doug did but he would walk his bike with me to make sure I got home safe.  I will always love this wonderful person.  His smile was contagious, his true kindness is unique. 

We emailed a couple of times before the reunion and I was so pleased to know he was coming.  It had been years since we had gone our separate ways but he always held a special place in my heart because of the kind of person he was.  If you were his friend, you were his friend forever!

Bless you Doug for you will always be missed by many!!!




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