Roger Frank ‘Rod’ Armstrong
June 2, 1940 – April 23, 2020
Rod Armstrong, 79, of Bryan passed away peacefully the morning of April 23, 2020, in the home he loved and in the loving care of the family he considered his most important achievement.
Roger Frank Armstrong was born June 2, 1940, in Geneseo, Illinois, a town of less than 4,000 on the outskirts of the Quad Cities region of Iowa. His parents were Vernon Armstrong, a livestock buyer and small businessman, and Viola Guild Armstrong, a housewife and mother to Rod and his younger brother, Ben Scott Armstrong.
Rod sang in the school choir, acted in school plays, and earned spending money by baling hay for local farmers and working as a lifeguard. He was an active and competitive youth who enjoyed being outside and played all sports, including football, basketball, track and baseball. He credited his favorite uncle, Scott Larimer, for instilling a love of all sports and for teaching him the rules and etiquette of golf, which became a hobby that he pursued passionately for the rest of his life.
Rod attended Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, on a football scholarship. He also attended Black Hawk College in Moline, Illinois, and graduated from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.
After college, he worked briefly for his father’s business and then joined the U.S. Air Force. After serving his country as a security analyst for four years, he managed a Red Wing Shoe Store in San Antonio and then became an auditor for Harte-Hanks Communications, which was headquartered in San Antonio and owned newspapers across Texas. That led to an opportunity in 1975 to become business manager of The Eagle, the Harte-Hanks newspaper serving Bryan, College Station and the Brazos Valley.
Rod remained at The Eagle for 43 years, a rock of stability in the often turbulent business of a daily newspaper. He remained the newspaper’s chief financial officer through five owners and nine publishers, earning the respect and trust of each of them. He was a natural leader who was admired by the newspaper’s staff for his integrity and commitment to accuracy, as well as his good humor and friendly personality.
When Rod reported to his new position at The Eagle in 1975, it was a milestone not only for his career but also his personal life. At The Eagle he met a co-worker, Clara Jones, who captured his attention with “her smile and her auburn hair.” They married on April 14, 1979, honeymooned in Galveston, and spent the next 41 years building a family and a life together.
The year they married, Rod and Clara also bought a dilapidated piece of property in the Steep Hollow area just west of Bryan. Over the next four decades, they steadily renovated and expanded, building a beautiful home for their growing family that also became the primary gathering spot for their large network of extended family and friends. The Armstrongs hosted hundreds of holiday dinners and lunches, countless parties and celebrations, and dozens of showers and even weddings. Rod was a gracious and generous host who opened his home and his heart to all comers, treating every guest like family, loving every child like his own, and serving up endless pots of his homemade beans and bottomless pitchers of his signature margaritas.
Rod touched the lives of many people who will remember a larger-than-life man with a bark bigger than his bite, and a heart bigger than both. He favored old shorts, worn-out T-shirts and beat-up boat shoes, which were his uniform for his favorite activities: working around his property, driving his tractor, mowing the grass and tending the burn pile. He also loved cheering on his beloved Dallas Cowboys and Texas Aggies, and vacationing with his family at the beach.
Rod was preceded in death by his parents and by his grandparents, Frank and Hattie Guild and Burt and Jenny Armstrong.
He leaves behind a large, loving family and countless friends, including his wife of 41 years, Clara Armstrong of Bryan; daughter Ceslie Armstrong of Boerne; son Tom Wright and his wife Judy of Bryan, and their sons Zach and Chris; daughter Brooke Moore and her husband Casey of Bryan, and their daughters Leslie, Ramsie and Paislie; son Kyle Armstrong and fiancée Lindsey Dauer of Bryan; a brother, Ben Armstrong and wife Suzi of Sun Valley, Arizona; his brothers- and sisters-in-law, Charles and Patricia Jones of Bryan, Kenny and Norma Jones of Bryan, and Marie and Scot Walker of Bryan; many nephews, nieces, grandchildren, and other relatives; and countless friends.
Rod Armstrong lived a long, rewarding life filled with fun and humor, a commitment to his profession, and boundless love for his family and friends. His final months were marred by a difficult and painful battle against cancer, but now his pain has ended.
Today our beloved husband, father, Pawpaw and friend is at the beach … and enjoying the perfect view.
A celebration of life will be scheduled for a later date. Arrangements are under the care of Callaway-Jones Funeral and Cremation Centers of Bryan-College Station. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Hospice Brazos Valley or to the American Cancer Society.
Express condolences at CallawayJones.com
So very sad to read of the passing of Rod. He was like a big brother to me and taught me everything about the financial side of the newspaper business but most of all about what it takes to be a good person. I cherish the time working for him as well as our friendship.
There is so much to remember about a hero as he was to me. We had many, many good times whether it was playing softball for the fearless Eagle team or getting up on the roof of the house in Steep Hollow to zero in the TV antenna (beers in hand of course).
He was a treasure and I will always treasure the time he took to be my friend. A one of a kind? Certainly!
God Bless you Clara and God Bless Rod. I will think of him often.
sorry for your loss – Rod was reason I ended up with the nickname Jake in high school I will always remember him for that
God bless Rod and may he enjoy eternal peace. My father, Bud Grubbs, worked in Circulation at the Eagle for many years and Rod was always a respected colleague and valued friend. I remember those margarita tailgates. I had the privilege of working at the Eagle the last couple of years before Rod retired. He was always the consummate professional who always had the answers. His ready smile, reliable sense of humor, and innate kindness was always appreciated and will be so missed. My prayers are with his family and friends as we remember and honor a life very well lived.
I’m so sorry to hear about Rod. He was always such a nice man and a good neighbor.
Rod, may the sun always be in your face and the wind at your back….
I was blessed to know you and work with you, Rod, a great friend in and out of the office and a fantastic “numbers kind of guy.” Your wise counsel, friendship and incredible presence made me a better person at The Eagle. You will be missed. My most sincere condolences to your family and may you rest in splendid peace.
Rest in Peace my cousin. Peace to all his family. Jim Swanson
I was class of 1958 with Rod and have many good memories. His parents were great people also.
The memories, the laughs, the fun times we will always have them. RIP Rod.
My deepest sympathy to you Clara and your family.
Patsy (Jones) Conrad
Sorry to hear of Rod’s passing and thanks for the information. We still try to keep track of all are 1958 class mates. Bill Sturm & Margaret (Armstrong) Sturm, Class or 1958
Rod was the best.
He helped straiten me out.
He was stern when he needed to be, but was very kind at heart.
He had a great sense of humor and was truly a joy to work with and be around. I’ll always appreciate what he did for me and for The Eagle.
So sorry to hear of Mr. Armstrong’s passing. He was a generous man and friendly to his neighbors in SteepHollow. Our thoughts and prayers for his family’s loss but know he is now at peace. Thank you for being a kind soul Mr. Rod Armstrong.
Thank you so much for teaching me about the business side of the newspaper industry. It has served me well over the year. May be upon your family at this time.
So very very sorry to hear of Rod’s passing.
This sad mews prompted me to dig out the 1957 & 1958 GHS “Sphinx” (our high school annuals) and there Rod was with all of us junior & seniors and the promise of a big future. I remember him as a Thespian–the Boris Karloff role in “Arsenic & Old Lace” or Doc Gibbs in “Out Town.” What a good life he had….and my good thoughts to his family.
Dear Clara and Family,
I cannot emphasize enough how much I admired, respected and liked Rod. His work ethic was amazing and he was one of the most trustworthy people I have ever met. He helped scores of folks day in and day out at The Eagle. I was blessed to know him and to work with him. May God’s light shine upon him always. I have all of you in my prayers … prayers for strength, prayers for comfort and prayers for peace.
I feel very lucky that I was able to get to know and care for Rod and Clara. He was always very kind, patient, positive, and a joy to care for. His strength and determination never ceased. Be at peace my friend and my sincerest condolences to the family. Pam, RN