Eldora Armstrong Obituary (1921 – 2022) – Charlotte, NC
September 19, 1921 – January 29, 2022
Charlotte, NC – Arlyene Armstrong died on the morning of Saturday, January 29, 2022. She was 100 years old. Beloved and strong matriarch, she led a remarkable and fascinating life.
Born September 19, 1921, in Minnewaukon, North Dakota, Eldora Arlyene Hillerud was the only child of Norwegian parents Ole and Amanda Hillerud. Arlyene (as she was known) came just a year after American women won the right to vote. During her lifetime, she witnessed many drastic changes in the world and quietly served as a role model to all who knew her.
Arlyene attended high school in Austin, Minnesota, where she served as a drum major, wrote for the newspaper, and was the city’s doubles tennis champion. There she met and dated George Elliott Armstrong. They loved riding his motorcycle and dancing to big bands like Frank Sinatra. They were excellent dancers. Arlyene attended secretarial school in Minneapolis (her father saw no point in women attending college) and worked for the manager of Hormel. When World War II broke out, she moved to California with her parents for work. She desperately wanted to be a “Rosie Riveter”, but due to her superb secretarial skills, she instead served as secretary to the head of Ford Motors, where she devised ingenious and free ways to transport Jeeps to the troops, such as enlisting prostitutes because they were heading that way. in any event.
On May 9, 1943, Arlyene married George Elliott Armstrong in Richmond, California. George was not required to serve in World War II because his only brother, Jack, died on Guadalcanal. However, he told Arlyene he wanted to be an Air Force pilot and enlisted. While he was training, they lived all over the United States. She talked about Texas nights and pulling mattresses up on the roof because it was “so hot.” During the war, George flew B-24 bombers and rose to the rank of captain.
After the war, they settled in Longview, Washington, and had two little girls – Janice and Lynn. Arlyene ran a very successful children’s dance studio, until one day George came home and announced that he had accepted a job in Cuba. So they left for Varadero with their daughters, aged 11 and 12. Arlyene said they took the girls to see Ernest Hemingway and his wife Mary drinking and dancing Conga lines at the airport bar.
After the Cuban revolution, she meets Fidel Castro. One day, she and her friend stood on the balcony of the house as Castro and his entourage passed by. Castro invited them over and introduced himself to the pretty Americans. Six months later, Arlyene was able to get her daughters and possessions out of Cuba, while George was forced to stay and train Castro’s men to run a factory.
They landed in Augusta, Georgia. The family was not used to segregation. Arlyene had to explain to her daughters that colored fountains did not mean rainbow colored water. Alone at 38 with two daughters and no money, she needed to work. She found employment as secretary to William “Billy” Morris, head of Morris Communications, which owned newspapers across the country.
These were exciting years in the newspaper industry. Billy Morris was the head of the Associated Press for a time. He was a man with many interests and Nanny’s job was an endless adventure. She spent a lot of time on her Creek plantation doing quarter horse training and auctions. He was a member of Augusta National and a friend of famous golfers. One of her weirdest moments was buying underwear for Jack Nicklaus.
Outside of work, she enjoyed singing in the church choir, playing handbells, making candles, swimming in her pool, and walking on her treadmill while listening to Willie Nelson sing “Whiskey River.”
She had access to the company’s condo in the harbor town of Hilton Head and vacationed there every summer with her family, stopping along the way to buy peanuts and boiled peaches. She loved floating in the waves on a float with her grandchildren, going out to dinner and playing Yahtzee.
Arlyene was a fantastic employee and Morris eventually appointed her company secretary with company stock. She is a role model to show how hard work is a major component of success.
In retirement, she was always busy. She bought her dream vacation condo on the gulf, overlooking the water. She traveled the world with her daughter Lynn, went to China with her in-laws, sang in church choirs, tap danced with her daughter Janice and created beautiful tapestries. She was always ready to pack her bags to be closer to her family because she always put family first. She was so proud of her grandchildren, who called her Nanny, and never missed an event: from dance recitals, soccer games, wrestling matches and movie premieres to birthdays, graduations and weddings. She’s rescued a loved one in need and even helped drive a U Haul from Brooklyn to Alabama.
She was bright, read endlessly, and was a news junkie. She subscribed to newspapers for decades and collected and sent newspaper clippings. When CNN arrived, it was the only channel she watched.
Arlyene hated cooking. She liked microwaved Triscuits with dill Havarti cheese, any salad with mayonnaise, and Chinese food. She possessed a wicked sense of humor and loved sending slightly inappropriate birthday cards. She had a thing for difficult animals, becoming the last home of all the cantankerous and unwanted family cats, and found endless amusement in their bizarre shenanigans. In the late 80s, she was often photographed by The Birmingham News playing Frisbee in parks with a granddaughter’s border collie, Ailsa.
Arlyene is from the biggest generation. She was a sensible Scandinavian and a survivor. She overcame cancer in her 20s, a brain tumor and two bouts of COVID at 98 and 99. She rarely wore makeup and never dyed her hair, but always kept a bottle of Shalimar perfume, and later, White Diamonds. She rarely complained and was the embodiment of unconditional love, support and generosity.
We’re glad she’s reunited somewhere in the afterlife with her youngest daughter, Lynn, her husband George, her parents, the grumpy cats and the frisbee-loving border collie. Those who remain will be missed forever.
She is survived by her beloved daughter Janice Armstrong Kirkpatrick, who dined with her each day until the end, her son-in-law, David, three grandchildren and their spouses: Celia Carey Meyer (Sean), Drew Kirkpatrick ( Janet), Amanda Kirkpatrick DeWeese (David) and five great-grandchildren: Vivienne, Hope, George, Nolen and Lucas.
The family would like to express their gratitude to Hospice and Palliative Care of the Charlotte Region who lovingly cared for her for almost four years. The staff at Pavilion Healthcare Center in Ballantyne were heavenly, treating her like she was a beloved member of the family.
A service celebrating the extraordinary life of Arlyene (Nanny) Armstrong will be held Saturday, February 19, 2022 at 2 p.m. in the Francis Chapel at Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Myers Park United Methodist Church Bell Choir or Hospice & Palliative Care of the Charlotte Region.
Arrangements are in the custody of Kenneth W. Poe Funeral & Cremation Service, 1321 Berkeley Ave., Charlotte, NC; 28204 (704) 641-7606. Online condolences can be shared on www.kennethpoeservices.com.
Published by Charlotte Observer on February 13, 2022.