Barbra Bowden Armstrong, Lenoir City
Barbra Bowden Armstrong, age 90, passed away July 14, 2017 in Chattanooga, TN on what would have been her 71st wedding anniversary. Daughter of Joseph Elijah and Laura Hudgens Bowden, she was born on August 7, 1927 two miles away from the hospital in which she completed her life on earth. She grew up in Lenoir City, Tennessee where she exhibited an early exceptional talent as a dancer, pianist and singer. As she matured, her beautiful soprano voice was heard at church, weddings – sometimes two in a day, and musical productions. While earning her AA degree at Virginia Intermont College, she was honored with membership in Phi Beta Musical Fraternity. Beautiful both inside and out, Barbara was a truly gifted young woman who longed for a career in opera.
Upon graduation she returned to her hometown and her life course was altered when she married her longtime sweetheart Jack McMillan Armstrong, a UT Vol football stand-out. They quickly started a family, raising their daughters Sally and Nancy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee where Jack was head football coach and Barbara was both housewife and CFO of Jack’s multiple side businesses. She began her career outside the home at Union Carbide Nuclear Division as an insurance clerk and was soon promoted to the communications accounting department juggling both career and family. In 1970 with the girls grown they relocated to Florida eventually settling in St. Augustine. Known affectionately as the “grandmother,” she retired from Barnett Bank at age 61 after working with ITT in the development of Palm Coast, FL and at Ketterlinus Junior High as the beloved receptionist and friend to students and staff alike. In her retirement she continued to assist her daughter Nancy in her interior design business proudly holding the title of Secretary/Treasurer.
Always keeping faith in her heart, she belonged to both the First Methodist and Martel Methodist Churches in Lenoir City, Tennessee. In St. Augustine she and Jack also attended Grace Methodist and First United Methodist. “Bobbie,” as nicknamed by her grandson Tommy, remained after Jack’s death with Nancy until 2006 when she moved to Chattanooga to be near daughter Sally. Approaching her 90th birthday, her relocation back to St. Augustine with Nancy was sadly prevented by her sudden illness.
She is survived by daughters Nancy J. Armstrong of St. Augustine and Sally A. Cook (David) of Chattanooga; grandsons Thomas Armstrong Gelsomino and Jonathan McMillan Cook; sister-in-law Ruth Bowden, and many nieces, nephews and cousins. Barbara was pre-deceased by husband Jack, her parents, her beloved grandparents Elmer and Rita (Mama) Hudgens, and her only brother Joseph A. Bowden.
The family would like to thank all of her “angels” at CHI Memorial Hospital and Hospice of Chattanooga who comforted her in her final days with daughter Nancy by her side. A family service will take place later this fall in Lenoir City, TN. Donations in her memory can be made to CHI Hospital, Hospice of Chattanooga or a Humane Society of choice. Holley Gamble Funeral Home in Clinton is in charge of all arrangements. holleygamble.com