Grafton – William Frederick “Bill” Armstrong died Friday evening, May 19th, 2023 – a week shy of his 98th birthday – at Shrewsbury Crossing in Shrewsbury, MA, where he had lived for the past 14 months. His three children were with him that night and, while the last several years had had its challenges, his final days were peaceful.
He was born in Worcester on May 29th, 1925, and spent his early years in Shrewsbury and Worcester with his parents and two brothers. From the stories we have heard, those were good – and often boisterous – years, and up until the week he died, he enjoyed touring the streets of Shrewsbury. Following a stint in the U.S. Army, he returned home, spent a year at St. Mark’s in Southborough before heading to college at Harvard, where he met Nancy Rice who he married in July, 1950.
His middle years were focused on his career and on raising a family. His career focused on all things related to the manufacturing of felt and we never lacked for a felt tablecloth or a Christmas tree skirt. His jobs took him to Wrentham, MA; Newburgh, NY; Ridgefield, CT; New York City; and, finally in 1970, to Grafton, MA, after taking a job with the Felters Company in Millbury. During those years, he and Nancy raised their family and gave their children a wonderful upbringing, with lots of outdoor activities, Cape Cod vacations, ski trips to Vermont, animals galore, and holidays full of family and friends.
He was predeceased by his wife, Nancy (Rice) Armstrong, in 1975 and never remarried. He spent the last 50 years based in Grafton but maintained strong ties to Falmouth, where he loved to sail, golf, and vacation. He also enjoyed trips to Vermont where he served as the center for the traditional Thanksgiving Day football game, a role that he played into his 90’s. He was thrifty….really thrifty, loved animals (particularly dogs), and was very happy puttering around his yard, tending to the lawn, cutting down trees, and keeping his equipment in working order, without spending any money on it. If he could do it himself, he did. If it could be fixed with duct tape, it was. That willful spirit remained until the end, with him insisting that he did not need help and he could manage things on his own.
In addition to his wife, he was predeceased by his parents, Stuart and Dorothy (Bickford) Armstrong, and his brothers, Richard Armstrong and John Armstrong. He is survived by his children, William F. Armstrong, III (Becky McCullough), of Falmouth, MA, Abby Armstrong of Sharon, VT, and Halley Allen (Gus) of Holden, MA as well as by his grandchildren, George Armstrong, Emma Armstrong, Sarah Allen Neidhardt (Kyle) and Elizabeth Allen (Michael Boller), and his great granddaughter, Ada Elliott Neidhardt. He is also survived by his nephew, Stuart Armstrong (Mike Levesque), and his nieces, Leslie Armstrong (Jeff Bacon) and Susan Armstrong. He also always enjoyed seeing his numerous nieces and nephews on the Rice/Gainey side of the family when he was on the Cape.
Over the past few years there were many visits from friends and family and an abundance of kindness from the wonderful nurses and staff at Shrewsbury Crossing and Notre Dame Hospice, which made such a difference and for which we are so appreciative. Thank you very much!
Calling hours will be held at the Roney Funeral Home in North Grafton, MA from 4:00 – 6:00 P.M. on Tuesday, May 30th. He will be buried with Nancy in Falmouth at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Smile Train – https://www.smiletrain.org/ – an organization our father supported over the years.