Passed away peacefully at Huronlea Home for the Aged on November 6th, 2022 in his 92nd year.
Beloved husband to the Late Leona Armstrong (Johnston) for 64 years.
Loving dad to Robert & Lynne, Brian & Betty, Bruce & Claudette, and Leanne Armstrong & Rick Kootstra.
Cherished grandpa to Brittany (Nic) Ellis, Brandon (Katie), Andrew (Chauntell), Morgan (Nathan) Thomson, Bryce, Caley (Devin), Nathan (Meghan), Tanner and Mykenna Armstrong.
Great Grandpa to Lexi, Carter and Ryker Armstrong, Alivia Ellis, Laken Armstrong.
Survived by in-laws Doris (Berne) McKinley.
Missed by several nieces and nephews.
Jim is predeceased by his parents Jim & Ada Armstrong, sisters Dorothy (Wilson) Tibbo and Helen (Bob) Joyce, great grandson Tanner Alexander and in-laws Joan (Dwight) Campbell, Helen (Grant) MacLean.
Jim was born on the home farm on the edge of Brussels in 1931. He was the youngest child, being well cared for by his older sisters. He attended Brussels Continuation School and continued his education at the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph. Jim graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree in 1953 and returned to Grey Township where he farmed with his dad, “Sunny” Jim. He met Leona Johnston while attending school in Brussels, and they were married in August 1954. They raised their family on the farm. Jim continued to farm full time with his dad for 13 years. He drove a school bus for a short time and really enjoyed the time spent with the children. As a result, Jim decided he wanted to become a teacher. He was able to attend summer school in London and entered the teaching profession in 1966. Jim taught at Chesley High School for two years and spent the remainder of his career teaching science and agriculture at Mitchell District High School. During this time, he also taught the in-class portion of the driver’s education course. Jim formed the MDHS ski club, and he and Leona spent many March Break holidays chaperoning students on the ski hills near Quebec City.
Leona was the love of his life, and aviation was also a passion for Jim, starting at the age of 5 when he saw his first airplane fly overhead. He received his pilot’s licence as a teenager. Jim’s first plane was a Tiger Moth. He built his first homebuilt, a Pietenpol Aircamper, from plans over a period of 7 years. The Pietenpol first flew in 1968. This was an accomplishment as there were few homebuilt aircraft in Canada at this time. Jim was well known in the area as being the flying teacher. The days that he was able to fly his Pietenpol to MDHS were so enjoyable for him. He made a runway on a farm adjacent to the school grounds. At the end of the day, he would land on the home field, taxi to the hangar behind the house, and give a big wave from the open cockpit yelling “What a country!
Over the years, the entire family enjoyed and became involved in Jim’s love of aviation. Every summer the family travelled to the Experimental Aircraft Association Fly-in at Oshkosh Wisconsin. Leona was a huge supporter, and they both volunteered with the EAA for over 25 years. Jim was a charter member of the Brussels Flying Club. An annual Pietenpol fly-in was held at the family farm for 20 years. This event brought together many pilots and families and led to many longstanding friendships that continue today. Jim’s email to a fellow Pietenpol builder in Brazil over 25 years began a wonderful friendship with several visits back and forth over the years.
Jim was an active member of the Brussels Lions Club, serving as secretary and president, and was honoured with the recognition of a Lifetime Membership in 2021. He was a member of Melville Presbyterian Church, serving as an elder and a member of the choir. He and Leona helped form the Huronlea Volunteer Auxiliary. Jim was a wonderful supporter of Leona’s political career. He was very proud of Leona’s accomplishments, and joined her in many local parades, holding a sign saying, “She’s the Reeve, I just tag along!”.
Jim and Leona were happily married for 64 years. They were proud of their children and all their accomplishments. The family legacy of aviation continues, as the 3 boys obtained pilots licences when they were teenagers. Many wonderful families get togethers were held at the farm. He enjoyed his time with the grandchildren and great grandchildren and loved telling stories! Jim’s life changed drastically when Leona passed in 2018. The next few years were challenging for him as he missed Leona’s love and caregiving.
Jim was well respected in his community and will be greatly missed by family and friends.
“On a mile of highway, you drive a mile. On a mile of railway, you travel a mile. With a mile of runway, you have the whole world.”
Friends and family will be received at Riverside Funeral Home Brussels Chapel on Friday, November 11th from 5-8 p.m. with a Lions Club Service at 8 p.m. Funeral Service will be held at Melville Presbyterian Church on Saturday November 12th at 11 a.m.
Interment at Brussels Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers and as expressions of sympathy donations to Melville Presbyterian Church, the Brussels Lions Club or Huronlea Volunteer Auxiliary would be appreciated.
Cards of sympathy and donations may be forwarded to Box 340, Brussels N0G 1H0.
Condolences may be left at riversidefuneralhome.ca