Jeffrey Armstrong, 67, of Avon Road in Cape Elizabeth passed away on June 5, 2012, at his home after a four-year battle with cancer. During this period, his courage and positive spirits were an inspiration to his family and friends.
Born in 1945, Jeff was a life-long resident of Cape Elizabeth, having grown up in the Pond Cove neighborhood. The daily exposure to the nearby ocean and to “Robinson’s Woods” nurtured life-long passions for Jeff. He and his friends fished for lobsters in small dories during the summers and honed their carpentry skills building various semi-domestic structures in the woods. For a kid growing up, it was as good as it gets.
In high school, Jeff become a standout competitive swimmer, and continued to compete at Dean College and Springfield College, from which he graduated in 1968. He continued to swim at least three times per week for the rest of his life and became an accomplished distance swimmer. He participated in the Peaks to Portland race over 20 times and regularly won the non-wet suit division. Jeff was honored to be the official starter for the race in 2010.
When it came to carpentry, Jeff could “do it all”. His first solo project was to restore a burned out house on Cushman Street in Portland that was scheduled for demolition. He was also an accomplished beekeeper, fly fisherman, and sailor. With his brother and friends, Jeff raced for many years and participated in J-30 National Championships.
Jeff’s interest in fisheries guided much of his professional career. He volunteered for the Peace Corps from 1969 to 1971 working on the Central American Regional Fisheries Development Project: with another volunteer, he supported a new fishing cooperative. The Peace Corp evaluation credits the two of them with overcoming the mistrust of independent artisanal fishermen by "becoming part of the community." When they arrived, 90% of the boats were independent, and when they left, 60% had joined the coop, which lasts to this day. He then worked for the National Fisheries Administrations as a foreign vessel “live on” inspector and later for the Maine Department of Marine Resources for 25 years. He loved his work and the people in the shellfish industry.
He was a trustee of Williston-West Church and a member of the Fort Williams Advisory Committee for many years. Jeff was an active member of the Cape Elizabeth community, and was proud to have attended every single one of his daughters swim meets.
Jeff is survived by his wife Priscilla and their daughter Schuyler, who is a law student at American University. He also leaves his brother, Anthony Armstrong and his wife Julie of Cape Elizabeth, sister-in-law Deborah Van Hoewyk and her husband John of Portland, sister-in-law Patience Sampson and her husband Bob Stafford of Friendship, brother-in-law Schuyler Sampson and his wife Patricia of Huntsville, A.L.; nephew Alex Armstrong; and nieces Abby Armstrong, Janetta Stringfellow, Katherine Kowal, and Tabor Stafford. Jeff also leaves his beloved dog Dooley, a vast collection of tools, a plow truck, and about 3000 bees.
Jeff’s family wishes to thank the staff at Maine Center for Cancer Medicine and Dana Farber Hospital for their great care and skill. A celebration of Jeff’s life will be held on June 13, 2012, at 2 p.m. at Williston-Immanuel United Church on 165 High Street in Portland.
Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to make contributions to:
The Jeffrey M. Armstrong Fund
C/o Fort Williams Charitable Foundation --Arboretum Project
P.O. Box 6260
Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107
To offer words of condolence, sign a guest book and share memories, go to the obituary page www.athutchins.com
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