Donald “Don” Leigh Armstrong, 86, Shelbyville, KY, died on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. He was born March 14, 1931, in Evanston, IL, to James William and Francele “Skeet” Harris Armstrong. He was a journalist, career government communicator, veteran, educator, lobbyist and civic leader.
Don served as executive director of the Kentucky Press Association from 1979 until 1983.
He graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1953 with a degree in Journalism. After graduation, he was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the US Air Force. He continued to serve in the US Air Force Reserve and the Kentucky Air National Guard for 38 years, attaining the rank of colonel. He was editor of “Mustangs to Phantoms,” the history of the Kentucky Air National Guard.
He began his lifelong career in journalism and public relations at the family-owned newspaper, The Henderson Gleaner and Journal. He also was state editor for The Lexington Herald-Leader and later became executive director of the Kentucky Press Association.
His career in government spanned 38 years in Illinois and Kentucky. He was director of member services for American Public Welfare Association in Chicago. In Kentucky state government, he was public information officer for the Departments of Finance and Economic Security. He was exercise design officer and public information officer for the Department of Military Affairs, Disaster and Emergency Services; director of Military Records and state military historian for the Department of Military Affairs, and US state director of Selective Service. He was a lobbyist for four years for the Kentucky Dental Assistants Association and the Kentucky Bottlers Association.
He was director of public relations at Western Kentucky University for 10 years and was associate professor of Journalism for eight of the 10 years. While at Western, he earned a master’s degree in Public Service.
A third generation Rotarian, he was an active member of Rotary for 40 years with 10 years of perfect attendance. He was a Sapphire member of the Paul Harris Foundation of Rotary.
He was a life member of the University of Kentucky Alumni Association and served on the National UK Alumni Board for 13 years.
He retired in 2000, after 50 years in public service. In 2003, Anne and Don moved to Shelby County, where they enjoyed life on the farm, raising crops and beef cattle.
He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Shelbyville and served in leadership positions in Presbyterian churches in Frankfort and Bowling Green.
Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Anne Bryan Barnett Armstrong; his daughter, Kitty Armstrong, Shelbyville; his grandchildren, Lauren Armstrong Parsons (Matt), Lexington; Seth Leigh Armstrong, Lexington; Anne Leigh McAllister, Louisville; and Sarah Elizabeth McAllister, Shelbyville; and two great-grandchildren, Benjamin Leigh and Lucy Adrian Parsons, Lexington.
He was preceded in death by his son, Bryan Leigh Armstrong, his parents and his brother, James William “Bill” Armstrong (Ellen Williams.)
Visitation will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 3, 2018, with the funeral following at 11 a.m. at Shannon Funeral Home with the Rev. Jay Hodge officiating. Burial to follow at Grove Hill Cemetery, Shelbyville.
Expressions of sympathy may be made to Rotary International, One Rotary Center, 1560 Sherman Ave., Evanston, IL 60201-3698, or Habitat for Humanity of Shelby County, P.O. Box 728, Shelbyville, KY, 40065, or Shelby County Public Library, 309 8th St., Shelbyville, KY 40065.