Donald R. Armstrong, an army veteran and 53-year Albany resident, died at the age of 81 at the Richmond Medical Center on June 26.
Armstrong, a retired maintenance worker for both the city and the , had suffered from lung disease and heart problems.
His wife, Jackie Armstrong, said his health had been declining over the last year, during which he was hospitalized a dozen times.
But even with his health problems, Armstrong never stopped being a handyman. His wife remembers frequently going out to the hardware store to get materials for whatever new projects Armstrong was working on.
“He was 81, and he was always active even when he was ill,” Jackie said. “He never stayed in bed. He was always doing something, even just a small project.”
Armstrong was originally from Brawley, a city in Southern California, where he grew up with his father.
At age 14, Armstrong came to the Bay Area to stay with his mother and siblings, and he graduated from Richmond High School in 1948.
After working a few local jobs, Armstrong served in the army during the Korean War in the early 1950s.
When he returned to the Bay Area, he attended Contra Costa College before starting his career as a maintenance worker for the city and the school district. During his career of almost 40 years, Armstrong showed off his talents as an electrician and certified carpenter.
In 1958, Armstrong married his wife, Jackie, who is an Albany native. The two lived in the same house for more than 50 years, raising their three sons.
“It’s a privilege and an honor to have this house and to have been able to raise our children in this area,” Jackie Armstrong said.
She and her husband traveled extensively, and when Donald became ill, they rented DVDs from the library to continue seeing new places and learning about foreign cultures. But she said they were convinced “no place was like Albany.”
Jackie and Donald Armstrong were among the group of Albany residents who first started campaigning for a Pierce Street Park. Over the last 20 years, Jackie said they came together with neighbors to realize their dream for a park, a dream that is finally .
Donald Armstrong was a long-time member of the Freemasons and the Loyal Order of Moose, two fraternal organizations. He was a proud veteran and a lifelong handyman. But more importantly, he was a little league coach to his children, the father that always helped drive his sons and teammates to competitions, and a devoted husband.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Jackie; sons, Jeff, Greg (wife, Bertie) and Tim, frontman of ; granddaughter Jacqueline and grandson Gregrey; as well as his brother Gene Armstrong and sister Christine Barton.
After last week’s memorial at , private interment services were held for Armstrong. His wife asks that anyone wishing to honor his memory make donations to Pierce Street Park.
Donations in his memory may be sent to:
Donald R. Armstrong Memorial for the Pierce Street Park, City of Albany
1000 San Pablo Ave, Albany CA 94706.
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