June 4, 2003 — Madras resident Luis Armstrong, 65, a longtime court interpreter and co-founder of three area Hispanic Jehovah’s Witness churches, passed away May 28.
Armstrong was raised in Puerto Rico, where his father was an extension agent. The name Armstrong came from his great-grandfather, a Scotsman, who was appointed governor of the American Virgin Islands before moving to Puerto Rico. When his father died, Luis and his mother moved to New York City where he graduated from high school and college.
He married Iris, a girl he had known in Puerto Rico, in 1956, then was hired as the general manager of a cable and wire company. He subsequently worked for a company in Gardena, Calif., then 13 years as personnel manager for Bechtel Construction Firm back in Puerto Rico.
While in California, he had become an elder in the Jehovah’s Witness Church, and after moving to Puerto Rico helped establish eight congregations.
In 1982 the family moved to Arkansas, where he was the personnel manager at a power plant, then came to Madras in 1984 to help a friend establish a Hispanic Jehovah’s Witness church. A second Madras church was later opened, along with a church in Bend.
In Madras Mr. Armstrong worked three years as a laborer at Bright Wood, then as the personnel manager at Pioneer Cut Stock in Prineville until 1995, when he became a full-time court interpreter.
Over 700 people from New York, California and all over Oregon attended his memorial service last Saturday at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
At the service, his son Walter Armstrong remembered his father saying, “Your loving kindness towards us was contagious. You loved, struggled and sympathized for the congregation and family.”
Lucy Ennis, who knew him for 18 years through the church said, “He was like a father to everybody, and to me that’s what he was. He was a very giving and self-sacrificing person.”
Everyone at the Jefferson County Courthouse knew Luis and two of the judges he worked with in court shared their memories of him.
Judge Dan Ahern called Armstrong, “A super-nice guy. Every time he appeared in court he had a calming influence on everyone. I think the attorneys and everyone behaved better when he was in court, they were more civil to each other. He was a very pleasant person to be around.”
Judge George Neilson said Armstrong was “A gentleman in every meaning of the word. He was prepared, respectful, timely, and cared about his work. I had very much respect for Luis.”
Memorial donations may be made to the Luis Armstrong Memorial Fund at U.S. Bank to help with funeral expenses.