Cover photo for Calvin Armstrong's Obituary
Calvin Armstrong Profile Photo
1913 Calvin 2013

Calvin Armstrong

July 9, 1913 — January 13, 2013

Calvin L. Armstrongs funeral service will be held on Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. at Goggans Funeral Home with Brother Jimmy Sheppard officiating. Burial will be at Highland Memorial Gardens in Terrell. Visitation with his family will be Friday, January 18, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the funeral home. Calvin L. Armstrong was born in the Red Oak community of Kaufman County, Texas. He was the oldest child of Betty Clem Solomon and William Evans Armstrong. His siblings were Lucy Ellan Motes Bassett, Mozelle LeMay Bryan, Martha Mae McDaniel and Doris Faye Dossett. He attended the Red Oak school from 1919 to 1929. The highest grade he completed was the 9th grade. Calvins dear wife and partner of over 50 years, Tennie Mae Putman died in 1983. She bore him two children, Hubert Odell Armstrong of Plano and Barbara Jenelle Byrd of Dallas. His two children gave him five grandchildren. The first born was John Russell Neill who died tragically at age 17 in 1978. The remaining four, Timothy Adam Neill, Julie Evette Neill, Eric Armstrong Neill and Donnie Lee Armstrong, all survive him. His one great granddaughter, Miranda Armstrong gave him great joy in his last years. Calvins first son-in-law, John Benjamin Neill, a native of the nearby Cobb Community, was like a son to Calvin. John became a vice president of Texas Instruments and once entertained Calvin and Tennie Mae for a month at his home in Taiwan. Tragically John perished in 1987 in an airplane crash near his Texas Instruments office in Baguio, Philippines. Calvin remarried in 1985 to Edna Camp who died in 2010 after an extended illness. Ednas children and grandchildren shared many precious years with Calvin in his home. Calvin was a mechanic all of his life. As a youth he built his first car from scrap Model T Ford parts. It was no problem for him that he couldnt find any brakes for it. He simply got by without them. During the depression he worked as an auto mechanic for Lone Star Cadillac in Dallas and then as an ice delivery man in Terrell. During World War Two he worked as a civilian employee at a flight training school in Corsicana and then as an enlisted man in the Army Air Corps at Rattlesnake Air Base in Peyote, Texas. After the war he returned to Kaufman County where he occasionally found work as a mechanic and electricians helper. In 1946 he opened his first and only business, the Armstrong Garage and Gas Station in Elmo in a rented building on busy Texas Highway 80. After a few years, in about 1953, he and Tennie Mae purchased the land and built their garage and home, literally with their own hands. Until the last months of his life Calvin still occasionally worked in his shop assisted by his grandson Tim. In 1958 Calvin became a maintenance worker for the Terrell State Hospital and retired from there as the Director of Maintenance, no small accomplishment for a man who only completed the 9th Grade. Calvin was a devout Christian. He served as a deacon at the Elmo Baptist Church and as music director. He and Tennie Mae with their two children, along with his daughter-in-law Helen served the Lord as the Armstrong Family Quartet over several decades regularly performing at churchs, singing conventions, and funerals across northeast Texas. Calvin loved music. He loved listening to it and playing it. Calvin grew up around old time fiddlers and guitar players and as a youth learned to play the fiddle, some of whom were grand champions and noted performers. Some of them must have inspired him. In his prewar Corsicana days he and other young men formed a string band and played popular music of the day as well as country and western, and Hawaiian music. For the rest of his life Calvin was always involved with such band groups formed not for professional gain but simply to produce music for the joy of it. In his 80s and early 90s Calvin took his group to area nursing homes to, as he said, entertain the old people. For the past decade or so his band has been known as the Sue Hair Band. He last performed with the band just six weeks ago in a jam session at the Fruitvale Community Center. Calvin was a distinguished member of the Odd Fellows Lodge in Terrell where he rose up to the level Nobel Grand . Last July about one hundred people, family and friends, gathered at the Elmo Fire Station meeting room to celebrate Calvins 99th birthday. His funeral service, just a few months shy of his 100th birthday, will sadly for all who knew and loved Calvin, mark the last celebration.
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