Friday, October 17, 2014

Shirley Hammer Armstrong Dies

Shirley is standing next to GTA in second brow on the left.

According to two sources, Shirley Hammer Armstrong has died.  Wife of Garner Ted Armstrong, the disgraced splinter cult leader of the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association, Intercontinental Church of God and Church of God International.  Shirley was of the Hammer dynasty they provided much of the property and money for Big Sandy to be developed.


Corky said...

Anybody know what happened to her in the intervening years since Ted's death?

Byker Bob said...

These were once our heroes, our own sort of royalty, and there is a sense of sadness in their passings. It's got to be a time of sadness for Mark, David, and Matthew. My condolences to them, if they happen to check in on us here from time to time.

I love GTA's Model A roadster, although personally, I probably would have removed the fenders, lowered the front end, and installed a 383 stroker small block Chevy engine and Muncie rock crusher four speed in it. 60 series rear tires would have been a gas as well.


Connie Schmidt said...

Byker Bob and all:

Im sure being COG royalty had many perks in its day. However, being married to GTA had to be a real roller coaster, and the constant betrayal by him of her had to be a constant trial.

It has been 11 years since GTA died. Amazingly, if he were still alive, he would be 85 this coming February. He and Rod Meredith were born within a month of each other. It is hard to picture GTA as an elderly man, when in his day he was the "dashing, young, vibrant" front man of the WCG.

Even the "next generation" ministers, the wave that graduated AC in the 1960s are getting very old too. The average age of a WCG era ordained paid minister is in the 65 to 70 year old range.

Even Joe Tkach Jr. is 63 years old now, his father, if still alive would be approaching 88 years old soon.

Flurry will soon be 80, Pack 68 and Hulme 69.

The next 10 years will see some fascinating and curious changing of the guards, and Im afraid that for groups with iconic hierarchy that they will not fare well with the power vacuums that will occur. I expect lots of splits and divisions.

Im curious to know who is the heir apparent to Tkach now at WCG?

Connie Schmidt said...

ICG’s Mark Armstrong reported that his mother Shirley died:

To all concerned,

I am sorry to report that my sweet Mother, Shirley Ann Armstrong died peacefully at 3:17 am this morning. The news apparently flew throughout the internet almost immediately, but I wanted to add some context to this terribly sad event.

Most of Mom’s immediate family was able to be at her side before the end came, and for that we are all very thankful.

The days leading up to October 16th were some of the best she’d had in months. I was able to talk to her at least three times by phone while traveling, passing along the great news that Michael and Melody are expecting. She said, “Tell them congratulations for me.” She also spoke lucidly with them and with Sonja by phone, exchanging information about each other’s circumstances as you’d expect.. Wednesday the 15th was a particularly good day for Mom. She was up for breakfast, lunch and dinner, feeding herself and expressing her gratitude to my brother David who was staying with her.

Mom never used a wheelchair or was confined to her bed. She got where she was going, on one of our arms, on her own two feet right up to the last day. Though she really never felt good or energetic for at least the last two years, she was never in any agonizing pain, and for that we are eternally grateful.

When I got word, pre-dawn in Lake Tahoe that Mom was in the midst of a life-ending emergency, I was able to secure an early morning flight and arrive at her side by about 8:30 pm last night. Matthew and his sons Andrew and Hunter had arrived and visited with her earlier. She was only in a semi-conscious state, but I’m sure she was aware of my presence and hope that was a comfort. She held on until my Son, Michael and his wife, Melody along with her only granddaughter, Sonja and her husband, Matt arrived shortly after 1:00 am. We all had the opportunity to speak and be close with her until her breathing became labored.

I was able to reach beneath the covers, take her hand in mine and say a prayer thanking God for her, for all she’s done for all of us and all she’s meant to so many; for the fine example of sterling character that defined her whole life; for being the rock and the glue that has held the Hammer and the Armstrong families together; and asked God to take good care of her. After saying “Amen” she yawned once or twice, and breathed no more.

She’s safe in God’s Hands, she didn’t suffer terribly as many do. Her time had come, as it must have been God’s will. Surely it is a time of great sadness and we’re all missing her already. But we also have a tremendous amount for which to be thankful and can rejoice in the life we were blessed to share with her. We loved her dearly, as did everyone who crossed her path. She took care of us, kept us all in line, and we’re going to try to stay that way. She was a wonderful wife and an inspiration to my Dad, Garner Ted Armstrong, and crucial to the Evangelistic Association and the ICG.

Heartfelt thanks to everyone for the prayers and well-wishes. We believe they were answered, according to His will. The funeral will be held at Croley Funeral Home at 401 N. Center, Gladewater, TX on Wednesday, October 21 with the time yet to be established.
Mark Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Yes they are all old. It seems a little unfair when so many of them reach advanced old age taking full advantage of modern medicine while so many of their congregation lived shortened lives because they didn't go to doctors.

I have every sympathy for Shirley Armstrong though, being married to a lying philanderer. Sounds like GTA was an abysmal lover too.

Anonymous said...

All of us who lived in the Armstrong Netherworld have might-have-been regrets from time to time.

But what do these poor "royals," as we're calling them, do when they are no longer at the pinnacle, when it's been a long time since they had all that cash we sent in to spend on themselves.

Feel bad for any cynicism just now, but sounds like Mark still hasn't given up the idea that his dad was Someone Really Special for God.

Oh, please won't you people get clear heads! Please!

Allen C. Dexter said...

Getting clear heads is quite a challenge and the closer to the top you've been makes it even harder. I know a lot of people who left WCG but are still blind idiots who couldn't shake the god virus. Some even ended up as ministers in mainline churches and are active in nonsense like the creationist society.

Byker Bob said...

Anonymous 5:25, have you led a perfect life? Have you ever intentionally or unintentionally hurt anyone while you were in the process of doing a job, or fulfilling an agenda? This stuff we do (and sometimes even loathe) is unfortunately all part of the human condition as we participate in the various roles birth and opportunity seemingly pass along to us.

I've known many people who were born into certain almost prefabricated roles or expectations. Some like them, others do not, and end up breaking free. We've all got our crosses to bear, and in some cases there are heavy psychological burdens to endure. A wise old Native American once counselled his son to walk a mile in the other brave's mocassins. That doesn't always guarantee giving someone a free pass, but a certain amount of understanding does help disrupt bad and destructive cycles.


Anonymous said...

I was surprised when I found out Mark followed in his father's footsteps. Perhaps it's the family curse. I remember seeing him when he was a teenager and I was a student at Pasadena. It was 1972 and Bobby Fisher was hanging around too. Mark walked around campus with long hair and bare feet. Everyone said he was a hippie, but although other "hippies" weren't allowed on campus he was special. I felt a bit of admiration for him........but now he looks so much like his dad. The hippies were just another dream that failed.

And BB, many of us are born into things which we seek to escape. HWA's daughters left the church and their kids weren't impressed with it either. Mark isn't quite a Prince Charles or even a Prince William. In fact he seemed more like a Prince Harry, but Harry will probably don the mantle soon enough.

old EXPCG hag said...

She's better off than we are...hopefully.

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Connie Schmidt – Excellent post on the generational leadership succession dilemma among the Armstrong Churches of God. Your post pretty much sums it up! I wonder the same thing about who will inherit the WCG/GCI after the multi-millionaire little Joey Tkach. Or, if there will be anything to inherit as most of the Church assets have all been sold off to support the lifestyle of the rich and not so famous if I am not mistaken

About 7 or 8 years ago, I came across on the internet a description of a man who I believe is named William Crowder if I remember correctly – a former slave from Maryland who found religion and became a traveling evangelist in the 1910s preaching the seventh day Sabbath and founding and calling his church, The Church of God. He had NOTHING to do with Seventh Day Adventism or our parent church, Church of God Seventh Day. What I found interesting reading about him was that apparently his was quite an orator and apparently attracted crowds of 3,000 to 5,000 in Chicago in the 1910s. From my recollection of Herbert Armstrong’s life, Herbert and Loma were in Chicago during that period, and of course, made me wonder if they ever attended. Crowder was black so probably not given what we know about Herbert Armstrong- but you never know!

My point is that 100 years later, there are several small Churches of God congregations sprinkled in the east and mid-west that exist even today who trace their origins to the work and preaching of this William Crowder. This is what I see happening to the Armstrong Churches of God. They will fade away into obscurity un-noticed by the rest of the world and having no real impact on the world. And within them, as new generations arise, they will have no clue of their once renowned, wealthy and prosperous Worldwide Church of God origins other than a sentence written in their church history page.

Byker Bob said...

11:45~ Mark also rode motorcycles as a student. I remember being up around Del Mar, and hearing a bike being warmed up, obviously without mufflers. When I saw who the rider was, I must confess, I was somewhat shocked. It was Mark. Later, he had a hot little Mustang. Once, one of my crew members at AC Press came into work late on a Monday morning. He said he had been at a party over the weekend at which Mark's band had played. Apparently, the band was into Deep Purple, and had done a version of "Smoke on the Water." Typically, you would have gotten into trouble at AC for such activities. I know, because I had been reprimanded in '66-'68 for my own adventures with motorcycles, cars, and playing electic guitar on the back porch of 380-B. These were things the AC rebel did, but which were considered completely unremarkable at "normal" colleges and universities across the USA. As time moved into the mid 1970s, it seems there were more rebel types on the AC campus, a number of whom were called "hippies" by their more seriously minded fellow students.

I was totally amazed, though, by Mark's non-hearing brothers! David was seriously into sky-diving. One of the guys who worked at the press was his friend, and I remember them re-packing David's parachute in one of the wide open areas of the pressroom floor. He also rode a Triumph chopper, as I later learned, shifting gears by the needle on the tach and the feel of the vibrations of the motor, since he could not hear the engine. I can't think of a better bike for this than a Triumph, because since both pistons are going up and down at the same time, alternating combustion cycles from side to side, the kind of tuned vibration is one of the attractive features of that bike.

Their youngest brother Matt drove some sort of Plymouth muscle car, again, shifting by the tach. It is amazing, the common interests and exhilaration they squeezed from life, although these sorts of activities are also often symptomatic of PTSD. Remember, "the end" was supposed to be happening at this point in time.

It is probably a tribute to their mother, and in spite of his bad example and his fall from grace, a tribute to their Dad as well that somehow they straightened out, and their family remained intact. I have been amazed by that more than by any other aspect, because the church and the rebel syndrome permanently blew apart so many other church families. However, I knew a lot of bad boy types in high school, whose dads were powerful and wealthy executives, and somehow they kept defending their sons, and padding their ways, until the kids straightened out. Obviously, GTA and Shirley did not take the "my way or the highway" approach with their own children that was so pervasive in the rest of the church.


Anonymous said...

BB, I knew those two brothers were both deaf, but they were really into physical activities and didn't seem to miss anything. It helped to have a rich and privileged dad too. GTA wrote the childrearing booklet I thought, perhaps he didn't apply those cruel methods on his own children.

I thought perhaps being deaf would be a blessing to a church kid, you wouldn't get so indoctrinated and maybe you could ignore the whole thing.

You know I think they probably were nice kids, but I was a church kid too and always a bit jealous of top ministers children and their position of royalty.

Anonymous said...

"I love GTA's Model A roadster"

I didn't know GTA had a Model A.
However, when I read it, it made me think of the old Little Rascals episode called Free Wheeling, in which the Gang had an old donkey-driven car with no brakes and would have an extending boxing glove sometimes knock over people on the side of the road while careening down the hill.
In that episode, after they lost the donkey, I remember Dickie asking Stymie, "Where we goin'?", and Stymie answering, "I don't know, brothah, but we're on our way!" Also, someone else asking about brakes and Stymie answering, "We ain't got no brakes, we's free-wheelin'!"

In a way, it's analogous to GTA losing the "donkey" HWA, and then GTA going careening downhill out of control while piloting his own vehicle.
(Instead of the extending boxing glove that sometimes knocked over people on the side of the road, there was GTA's extending penis that sometimes knocked up women along his path- who were subsequently "counseled" into having abortions.)

We all know that GTA's fundamentalist religious career careened out of control and took a decidedly downhill course.
What a spectacle, watching GTA prance around naked, with his dick in his hand masturbating on national TV!

But hey, maybe compared to a father who was totally into f****ng his daughter while Loma looked the other way, he felt he was above that by "only" knocking up church chicks.

Byker Bob said...

There were a lot of strange ideas floating around the church back then, too. And it wasn't just Gerald Waterhouse, either. Talk of everyone once again wearing robes, parents choosing their childrens' spouses, and as we know, everyone going back to their supposed homelands. It all seems camp today.

Somehow, in the late '60s, GTA managed to get to the forefront of the then budding environmental movement, and part of that was the "back to the earth" scene. Cleaning up rivers and the air was kind of "millennial" from the church's perspective, as the millennium was supposed to usher in a return to bucolic lifestyles. GTA had just acquired a Mark III Continental, and there were things he did not like about it. One of those aspects was that with its huge motor it was wasteful, and at one point, he began to praise the older, four cylinder Ford products as being really all that was needed. I know he knew about the flathead V-8's because I had also heard stories about him and his buddies tooling around in a 1934 Ford, with almost no floorboards left in the car. But, he later related on the air that he had purchased a Model A to restore, and I've made an educated guess that that is probably the car in the picture.

I believe that a lot of things that happen with peoples' marriages, how they deal one another's flaws and shortcomings, and the decisions they make are deeply personal and private. But to get the big picture, it's good to remember that the Armstrongs had what we would classify as a power marriage, the Hammer family having contributed so much to the church, and supporting it so wholeheartedly. There were probably pressures involved that we can only imagine, and I mean on every single family member. I know this just from the pressures and expectations the children of elders faced, though some of us with relatively common names managed to maintain anonymity, and avoid the so-called special perks and privileges.

Basically, in many ways, a rotten cultic philosophy distorted everyone's lives. Nobody was completely protected from being scathed. Unfortunately, complicit, willing, fellow victims can also fill or appear to fill the additional role of predator. It becomes difficult to forgive that.


Anonymous said...

Didn't they have to get married because GTA made Miss Hammer pregnant? Their first child was born rather large for a premature baby. If this is gossip then that's the price of being royalty.

John D. Schroeder said...

Shirley Armstrong was an extremely caring, effervescent personality. I'm honored to have known her. May her memory be a blessing, as I'm sure it always will be. Rest in peace, dear lady.