Arthur (Art) Armstrong died quietly at his home in
Manhattan Beach on August 31, his remarkable wife of 26 years Stephani by his side. After a heroic battle with a rare form of blood cancer, he'd reached the age of 90.
Born in Seattle in 1929, Art was the eldest son of Arthur Owen Armstrong Sr. and Isobel Brown Armstrong. After attending Broadway High School, Art (in his words) "visited" the University of Washington before being "politely" asked to pursue his education elsewhere. Instead, he enlisted in the US Navy at the outset of the Korean War. He was stationed at the Naval Training Center in San Diego and used that opportunity to finish his undergraduate work at San Diego State University, where he received a degree in accounting. Given that his sea duty consisted primarily of taking the "nickel-snatcher" to Coronado Island, Art also used the time to start his large family after marrying his first wife Nancy Paulsen in 1953.
Art received his law degree in 1958 from Boalt Hall, at the University of California at Berkeley.
There he graduated first in his class and was chosen to be Editor-in-Chief of the California Law Review.
He began his legal career as a tax attorney working for well-known firms, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher as well
as Irell & Manella. In 1976 he established his own firm, Armstrong Hendler & Barnet (later changed to Armstrong, Hendler & Hirsch), which became one of the most prominent and successful entertainment legal practices in Los Angeles. Among the firm's many notable clients, Art often marveled at Sean Connery's swooning influence on the staff. Art ultimately finished his career as CEO of Merle Norman Cosmetics, another of the firm's major clients. In every step of his remarkable career, Art was known not only for his keen intellect and solid judgment but also for his compassion for those he met along the way. He was also gifted with a sharp wit capable of dryly critiquing friend and foe alike, all in good fun of course.
The breadth of Art's interests was impressive. He loved the outdoors and made sure to explore with his children the hidden corners of every national park in the west. In that interest, the apple hadn't fallen far from the tree of his own grandfather, Webster Brown, who'd founded Circle City, Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890's. Art was a fierce competitor in a variety of sports, particularly in later life when he and his wife Stephani became competitive badminton players. His charitable interests were in education. Art was a long-time supporter of the students at Garfield High School, where he provided college tuition assistance to 287 graduates over the years.
To all those who knew him it probably goes without saying that the center of Art's existence was his family. His intellect, integrity and sharp wit were an inspiration. His addiction to all desserts a la mode was something else. Art is survived by his deeply cherished wife Stephani Armstrong; five of his six children (and their spouses): Heather Allison, Laurie Bartholomew (Brett), Bruce Armstrong (Hilary), Rob Armstrong (Tacy), and Kirstie Martinelli (his eldest son Craig died in 2015) and his fourteen grandchildren: Roxie, Bradley, McCabe, Allie, Reagan, Brodie, Brendan, Katherine, Isabelle, Zoey, Amy, Owen, Jack and Tate. He will be sorely missed.
Published in The Beach Reporter on Sep. 10, 2020.