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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.

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Published in The Beach Reporter on Sep. 10, 2020.
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November 8, 2020
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Karen Holder
November 8, 2020
I was so very sorry to hear of Art's passing. He was a very good mentor and friend to me all the years I was with Merle Norman. I opened my first store in 1974 in Lexington Kentucky. Over the years he was the person that I trusted the most at the home office and he gave me wise advice many times. His advice always showed that he cared about my welfare as well as the welfare of the company. After I sold my mall store in 2014, we continued to email occasionally and I saved and still treasure those emails. Art had a kind heart and a bold spirit. He was a great human being. I know the legacy he leaves will live on in the hearts and minds of those who knew him.

I love the following quote from Isak Dinesen which speaks to me of healing.

"The cure for anything is saltwater: sweat, tears or the sea."

Healing is a slow, steady process. I truly wish the family the very best on that journey and I am sending healing prayers your way as you navigate this great loss.

Karen Holder
Karen Holder
September 9, 2020
Our dear, Art Armstrong. I’m sorry to hear this news. Art was our CEO during the 11 years I worked for the company. I feel very fortunate to have worked for him, and to have learned from him.

Art chose me to work on an extensive writing project for him, and to this day, it is one of my proudest accomplishments. Our relationship was enhanced by my living in Chicago, and we would meet for meetings and dinner, when he came into town to visit his daughter. I found Art to be a fascinating person and I loved speaking with him. I heard many fantastic stories about his grandfather. I’ve been sorting thru old papers from my career, and just yesterday I found two letters Art had written to me. They are just a few letters I have now saved from my entire career, and have pitched the rest. Art had such a positive impact on many of us.

To find out he has passed today is leaving me with a sad heart.

Condolences to all in his family. Art was an incredible person.
Susan Swann
September 9, 2020
Lew and I met Art and his first wife Nancy at Boalt Hall (Law School). While Art was at the top of his class, Lew was holding up near the bottom but we had a great friendship and later, in So. Calif. played so much bridge with so much laughter. We'll miss him!! Cindy & Lew Uhler
Cindy Uhler
September 6, 2020
I knew Art as a truly devoted Officer and CEO of Merle Norman! He was always fair and listened to all my issues and suggestions! His life accomplishments are truly amazing but not surprising because when you talked to him you knew he was very special! Stephani and family you are in our prayers! Phil & Debi Cloninger retired MN studio owners
Debi Cloninger
September 6, 2020
He was always advocating for Merle Norman Cosmetics owners.A honor truly to have known such a gentleman.
Joyce conrad
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