Local political watchdog Ron Armstrong dies at the age of 72

Ron Armstrong, a strident local political watchdog and devotee of conservative causes, is dead of brain cancer at the age of 72. He died Friday evening at 9 p.m.in Pacific Care Center in Hoquiam, his widow Arlene confirmed Saturday.

Armstrong had been at the center for about a month for hospice care for Stage 4 cancer that was diagnosed in June of 2012, she said in a telephone call from their home at Axford Prairie, near Humptulips.

An avid writer of letters for The Daily World’s editorial page, Armstrong was a staunch conservative. But he began his involvement in politics as a leader of the Democratic Party in Aberdeen, his wife said. “He wanted to make them more conservative and when that didn’t work, he could not longer follow them and went elsewhere, to the Republicans,” she said. She believes he knew more about the U.S. and state Constitutions than many elected officials.

He recently finished a book, titled “The Panama Canal: The Invisible Wonder of the World,” and managed to attend a book signing at the Aberdeen Timberland Library Saturday, June 8 at 2 p.m. “I thought of the title,” said Mrs. Armstrong when the two became fascinated with the history of the canal on a trip to the Atlantic side in October of 2011.

Armstrong traveled to the United States Military Academy at West Point to research the construction and compiled his work from the 45-volume photo album of the project’s chief engineer, Col. George Washington Goethals. The 141-page photo essay, published in large format, arrived this spring.

Though weakened by his illness, Armstrong made it through most of the library event, admitting to being tired about 20 minutes before the end. As he was wheeled to the bus to be taken back to hospice, he joked, “‘When are we going to do Hoquiam?’” she said.

Asked what she will miss most about her husband, Mrs. Armstrong replied, “Everything,” adding she will miss his “quirky comebacks for one thing.” Her husband knew “a lot about a lot of stuff.”

Armstrong traveled in a van full of equipment as a computerized engraver all over Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska, for much of his working life.

The cancer appeared suddenly, she said. He was hardy, even running the big tractor on their property, until weakness showed up on his left side and his son in law suggested he get to a doctor. The brain tumors were operated on twice, once in Olympia, once in Seattle and were treated with a full course of chemotherapy and radiation, his wife said. They tried to get him into an experimental trial, but he was too weak. He was free of pain until the very end, she said.

The Armstrongs were married for “50 years and six months.” Armstrong is also survived by three grown daughters, Stacy Christopherson of Hoquiam; Cindy Converse and Amber Brandt of Elma.

The Armstrongs belonged to the Pacific Beach Community Church for 28 years; funeral arrangements are to be handled by Harrison Family Mortuary and will be released early next week.