“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”
Curtis Lavergne Armstrong was born in Orange, May 9, 1921 to Curtis Lamar Armstrong and Mary Ethel Hatton Armstrong. A grandson of early Orange pioneer John Moses Hatton, Curtis grew up in a time when horses were an acceptable (and often preferred) mode of transportation and cattle drives still occurred across Roundbunch. He and his two older sisters, Loraine and Gladys, were raised on their parents’ dairy farm, learning at a young age the values of respect, honesty, and hard work.
Curtis was a man of many hats – he was a World War II Navy veteran, a charter member of the Orange County Sheriff Posse and Mounted Quadrille, President of the West Orange School Board in the ‘60s, an operator at DuPont Sabine River Works, and a youth leader and Deacon at McDonald Memorial Baptist Church. Yet to him, it was the relationships he built through those activities that mattered most. He had an unwavering faith in God and demonstrated Christ’s love for others through the simple things – a kind word, a smile, or a much-needed hug.
He had a zest for life and passion for adventure. He and his beloved bride of nearly 68 years made the most of their days. They shared a love of travel and introduced their two daughters to the wonders of this nation through yearly family vacations. They spent numerous days camping alongside Colorado streams, exploring national parks on dirt bikes, and fishing in east Texas lakes. Together, he and Martha explored all 50 states and eight Canadian provinces. A rancher at heart, Curtis cared for livestock throughout his life. Much to the delight of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, his pastures held goats, sheep, donkeys, cattle, and even a llama or two.
Age was never a deterrent to Curtis – in his 70s, he rode in the opening parade of the Sheriff Posse Reunion rodeo, in his 80s, he went on daily walks and bike rides, he continued his bee keeping business into his 90s, and continued making visits to the ‘young folks’ in the nursing home through September.
He was known by many names – Lavergne, C.L, Curtis, Daddy, Pop, Papaw, Uncle Vern, Bernie – each one reflecting a relationship, a life influenced by the genuine compassion and the quiet strength of a humble cowboy from Orange.
Curtis was reunited with his bride in heaven Nov. 19. He is survived by his daughters Beverly Jean (James) Burch of Grenada, MS and Judy Dianne (Bill) Brimm of Orange, as well as four grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and 10 great-great grandchildren.
He is preceded in death by his lifelong love, Martha Gunstream Armstrong, his parents, and his sisters.
Visitation will be held Monday, Nov. 24, from 5:00-8:00 pm, at Claybar Funeral Home in Orange. The funeral will be held Tuesday, Nov. 25, at 10:00 am, at McDonald Memorial Baptist Church in West Orange.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Orange Christian Services, 2518 W. Park Ave., Orange, Texas 77630, or the charity of your choice.