Richard L. Armstrong
DOVER — Richard L. Armstrong, 80, of Dover, and formerly of Leesville Lake and Worthington, died peacefully early Thursday morning, Jan. 3, 2008, in Union Hospital at Dover.
A member of more than a half-dozen halls of fame, Mr. Armstrong was the former commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association from 1980 until his retirement in 1990. Best known as “Dick” to his friends, he was born at Loudonville on Nov. 17, 1927, and was the only son of the late Raymond J. and Elizabeth “Betty” Doup Armstrong.
Dick graduated from Loudonville High School in 1945 where he attained All-Ohio honors in basketball and earned a basketball scholarship to Baldwin-Wallace College. Following his freshman year, Dick was drafted into the Army Air Force where he served at Biloxi, Miss., for two years. Upon his return from the military, Dick returned to Baldwin Wallace College where he played varsity football for four years and basketball two years. While at BW, he met the former Pat Anderson, and the couple wed Nov. 23, 1950. The same year, Mr. Armstrong began his teaching career at Creston High School. The following year, he became head football and track coach at Centerburg. From 1953 to 1955, he coached football at Crestline.
In 1956, Mr. Armstrong became assistant football coach and boys advisor at McKinley High School. During his tenure at McKinley, he coached two state championship football teams. Two years later, Dick went to North Canton Hoover High School as guidance director and assistant track and football coach. In 1961 he became Hoover’s Director of Athletics and faculty manager. In 1967, he became the school’s principal. During his tenure at Hoover, Mr. Armstrong coordinated many tournaments for men’s athletics.
Dick left Hoover High School in 1973 when he joined the Ohio High School Athletic Association as assistant commissioner. In 1980, he was appointed OHSAA commissioner. Under his leadership, the OHSAA gained recognition as a first class tournament program, and for his desire to interpret the constitution and by-laws of the organization as they were written. Dick was instrumental in growing the men’s basketball tournament from three divisions to four in 1988.
While he retired in 1990, he never really failed to keep up to date on high school sporting activities and remained well read regarding the achievements of those whom he coached, mentored and led in his four decades in public education.
His honors, too numerous to mention in their entirety, include the Baldwin-Wallace Hall of Fame, the Ashland County Sports Hall of Fame, the North Canton Hoover Hall of Distinction, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Ohio High School Football Hall of Fame, the Ohio High School Basketball Hall of Fame, and this spring, will be posthumously inducted into the Ohio High School Officials Hall of Fame.
At his side all the while, was his wife of 57 years, Pat, of Dover. Together they reared a family that includes a daughter, Susan (husband Jeff) Border of Dover; and sons, Jim Armstrong of Hilliard and Murray Armstrong of Amity. A granddaughter, Elizabeth (husband Dennis) Klingensmith of Jackson Township completes the family.
Friends are invited to call today from 2 to 4 and from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Geib Funeral Center at Dover where Elks services will commence at 8 p.m. The family will gather Monday at 11 a.m. in Amity United Methodist Church for a brief service prior to burial in the Armstrong family plot at Amity Cemetery.
Those unable to attend are invited to share memories and condolences with the family by visiting the funeral home’s Web site at www.geibfuneral.com.
The Armstrong family requests that memorial contributions be made to Hospice of Tuscarawas County, 201 W. Third St., Dover, OH 44622.