On March 15, Jane Armstrong quietly passed away surrounded by her beloved husband Dale and other members of her family. She was born April 22, 1930, in Houston, Texas, to John and Catherine Broyles. This April 20, she and Dale would have celebrated their 62nd anniversary. Jane was always a very caring person sharing and giving her own special kindness and love. Both Jane and Dale cherished the many opportunities they had to enjoy being with their children and grandchildren.
Music was a very special thing for Jane and her family. From playing the French horn in high school to singing solos to directing her church choir for many years, to singing Christmas carols with her family and church members on Christmas Eve, music was an integral part of Jane’s life.
She loved gardening. She studied horticulture at Oklahoma State University. Tending her extensive vegetable garden was one of her greatest joys, along with sharing her harvests with others. For a few years she harvested peaches from her family’s peach orchard in the Perkins area. She even grafted a few native pecan trees at her home, with the hopes of a good pecan crop. She was known as an excellent source of blackberries, okra, corn on the cob, tomatoes, etc. She surprised waiters by supplying her own tomatoes at restaurants.
Jane and Dale met at Centenary College in Shreveport, La., which Jane attended after high school and Dale after coming back from the Navy. Dale was surprised to learn that Jane had been a close friend of his sister in high school, where they played in the band together. Members of the Centenary Choir, Jane and Dale traveled and performed in Louisiana, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. During this time, Jane directed the choir at Broadmoor United Methodist Church.
Soon after their marriage, Dale worked in New York City and Jane studied music at Union Seminary, a division of Columbia University.
After New York City, the couple traveled back home to Shreveport to begin their family. During this time, Jane and Dale sang in the opera “Carmen.” Jane’s character got into an elaborately staged physical fight with Carmen where they both ended up on the stage floor. Several characters had to pull them apart.
Several years later, with three children in tow, they moved to Austin where Dale received his doctorate in accounting and statistics. As a young mother in Austin, Jane enjoyed exploring her native Texan sights with her young children (there were four by this time). In fact, during one adventure into the hills near Austin, she saved them and their chihuahua from a den of rattlesnakes. Upon Dale’s graduation, the family moved to Stillwater and thus began their life here.
In the ’70s, she could be seen riding along side her husband, both on their own small motorcycles. She also enjoyed flying in a small plane with her husband pilot. Jane enjoyed traveling. She journeyed to Europe with husband Dale, and daughters Catherine and Karen, trekked up to Maine with her mother and her good friend Linda Jensen, and visited her daughter Karen’s home in Papua New Guinea for a month one January.
Jane was the choir and hand bell director at First United Methodist Church in Stillwater for several years. While at First Church Stillwater, she took her youth choirs on multiple spring break mission trips, ranging from West Virginia to Mexico. She also organized productions for her youth choirs such as “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Jane was a pioneer in recycling in Stillwater when, in the early ’70s, she organized a recycling project to raise money for choir trips and projects. Tons of glass were dropped off and collected at the church and then driven regularly to Sand Springs.
After leaving First Methodist, she directed choirs for two years at the First Presbyterian Church, and then finally accepted the choir and hand bell choir director position at Perkins First United Methodist Church. She held this position until last spring, when she retired. While at Stillwater First Methodist she developed a continuing education bell choir group. She stepped down from that position last year as well, but it is still ringing strong. Over the years, when time allowed, Jane also enjoyed traveling on Methodist mission trips. The last two took her to the hurricane ravished Dulac, La., and to the tornado devastated Greensburg, Kan. She was continuously active in her church’s outreach programs and would ask anyone and everyone to join the choir and bell choir.
Jane loved life and her family. She carried a very beautiful outlook on life, showing care, respect, and joy throughout her life.
She will be missed.
We will remember her and be thankful she remains in our hearts and memories.
Jane is survived by her husband Dr. Dale E. Armstrong, their four children, Dr. Catherine Inman and husband Dr. Mark Inman of Madison, Wis., Dr. Dale A. Armstrong and wife Susan Armstrong of Mason City, Iowa, Paul Armstrong of Stillwater, and Dr. Karen Armstrong of Silver Spring, Md., and four grandchildren: Ryan Armstrong of Barcelona, Spain, Alex Inman of Minneapolis, Minn., Meredith Armstrong of Mason City, Iowa, and Katalina Kastrong of Silver Spring, Md., and by her sisters-in-law Lenora Ann Cowel of Chicago and Betty Broyles-Pettey of Houston and their children, Jane’s nieces and nephews: William Broyles Jr., Betsy Breier, Les Cowel and Debbe Harris and their families. She also leaves two loving pets behind with her husband Dale: Wiley, their sheltie, and Gus their Maine Coon cat.
She is preceded in death by her parents John Broyles and Catherine (Bell) Broyles, her brother William Broyles, Sr. and daughter Gretchen Armstrong, one week old.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Perkins First United Methodist Church designated to the Jane Armstrong Permanent Endowment in care of Perkins First United Methodist Church, PO Box 280, Perkins, OK 74059. The intention of the endowment is to support the music program (which includes hand bells), and mission trips.
A memorial service will be held in Jane’s honor 1 p.m. Saturday at the Perkins First United Methodist Church.
Condolences may be sent and an online obituary viewed by visiting www.strodefh.com.