TUPELO - One of Tupelo’s leading and most beloved citizens, Harry Lee Armstrong, realized the promises of his faith on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020 from Sunshine Nursing Center in Pontotoc where he had briefly resided. Harry, known to many as their school teacher and principal and to others as Mr. Civitan Club, was a selfless soul whose life was dedicated to helping others. Harry was born in the Evergreen Community of Itawamba County to Harry Tracy Armstrong and Bessie Patterson Armstrong. He attended Dorsey Elementary School and graduated from Itawamba Agricultural High School in 1950. He attended Itawamba Junior College where he met his sweetheart and life companion of 68 years, Peggy Gaddy. They married on Nov. 30, 1951. A patriotic American, Harry was drafted into the Army in 1952 but chose to be a Marine. He served during the Korean Conflict from 1952-1954, honorably discharging as a Corporal. He attended Mississippi State under the GI Bill and received his BA in Education in 1958. He began his teaching career with Tupelo Public Schools as an elementary teacher/counselor at Church Street. In 1969, he became principal at Pierce Street Elementary serving until 1982.
Harry was blessed with extraordinary natural skills in construction, carpentry and remodeling. When Milam burned in 1982, TPSD asked Harry to lead the rebuilding/renovation of the school. His work was so complete, the district asked him to assume the title of Director of Maintenance for the entire system. Harry held this job until his full retirement in l987. A devout practicing Christian, Harry was a member of Harrisburg Baptist Church for over 50 years serving as a deacon and in the kitchen ministry. He was a faithful member of the Tupelo Luncheon Civitan Club for over 50 years, a past president and a staple on the fish cooking team and the permanent Chairman of the Vidalia Onion Drive for over 30 years. His personal creed reflected the Civitan Creed-“Service above self.” He was affiliated with several other community organizations including Evergreen RCDC, Cornerstone, and the Gumtree Woodworker’s Club. A master gardener by his rural Itawamba County birthright, Harry loved the soil and all God’s creation. He was known far and wide for his massive pea patches and the growing and giving away of squash and tomatoes. Later in life as he “somewhat” slowed down, Harry became a big fan of western movies and watching Mississippi State Women’s basketball. He loved, cared for and revered his McNeese Street neighbors. His legacy will be that of unsurpassed, unselfish, lovingly devoted service to his God, his family, and to all mankind.
A celebration of his life will be held at 2 PM Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, from the Tupelo Chapel of Holland Funeral Directors with Dr. Forrest Sheffield and Bro. David Langerfeld officiating. Private family burial will follow in the New Chapel Cemetery in Itawamba County among his forebears. Visitation will be from Noon until service time Thursday only at Holland-Tupelo Chapel, which is honored to be serving their friends.
Harry is survived by his wife, Peggy Joyce, a resident of Sunshine Health Care in Pontotoc; 2 sons, Eddie Armstrong and wife, Carol of Tupelo, and Jim Armstrong and wife, Dorothy of Hattiesburg; 4 grandchildren, Paige Arrington (Barry), Lynzee Kinsey (Eric), Jay Armstrong (Lindsey), and Jessica Lee Matthews (Brock); 5 great-grandchildren who adored Big Daddy and whom he adored, Abbie Arrington, Jackson Kinsey, Oliver, Linus and Milo Armstrong; one brother, Bobby C. Armstrong (Willi) of Jacksonville, FL; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, William Armstrong, 4 sisters, Faye McDaniel, Kathleen Kelly, JoNell Edge Loucks, and Lillian Knight Buse.
Pallbearers will be Cecil Weeks, C. W. Jackson, Jimmy Swann, Derwood Tutor, Adrian Green, and Sammy Henderson. Honorary pallbearers will be the Tupelo Luncheon Civitan Club and the McNeese Street neighbors.
Memorials may be made to Tupelo Children’s Mansion, 1801 East Main Street, Tupelo, MS 38804, or to Sunshine Health Center Patient Care Fund, 1677 Hwy 9 North, Pontotoc, MS 38863. For those who may be unable to attend, the service may be viewed at www.hollandfuneraldirectors.com/live-streaming at 2 PM Thursday, where it will be archived.
To send flowers to Harry's family, please visit our floral section.