Elmer Powell (“Army”) Armstrong died with Alzheimer’s disease on Aug. 17, 2019. He was born on March 2, 1936, to Margaret (Powell) and Elmer Clare Armstrong in Hackensack, NJ. A graduate of Cranston High School, Cranston, RI, and of the University of Rhode Island, he later studied at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. He was married to the former Doris Wood from 1960 until her death in 1991. In 1996, he married Cecilia Girz.

Army was an ardent filmmaker who stopped his novel in mid-sentence when he discovered film in a new program at the University of Iowa, and started his own production company. He served in the US Army, where he was a Motion Picture Editor at the US Army Pictorial Center in Queens, NY. He later worked in film units at the University of Iowa and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, and freelanced on industry trade films, TV ads for political campaigns, and content for KBDI TV in Denver and Citizens’ Community Television Channel 54 in east Boulder County. He directed and produced a number of music videos for hip hop artists in Denver. Working as writer, editor, and/or director, he won numerous awards at national and international film competitions including the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award, the San Francisco International Film Festival, the BANFF Festival of Mountain Films, and Cine (Council on International Nontheatrical Events). Most recently he produced documentaries on the history of Vinalhaven, ME, a working island in Penobscot Bay that captured his heart.

Army loved entraining others into his craft, and he encouraged new filmmakers of all ages. He taught at the Colorado Film School at Red Rocks Community College and the Community College of Aurora. He was also a key figure in the Denver Academy Film Festival for Youth.

Imbued with a strong moral sense, Army used every project to educate on issues of social justice, sustainability, localism, and the power of family and community to heal the excesses inherent in 20th and 21st century society. In his local community, he served on the boards of Boulder-Jalapa Friendship City Projects and Citizens’ Community Television Channel 54.

A man of immense creativity and almost unlimited energy, in his spare time Army served Boulder’s Nomad Players for over two decades in set, sound, and lighting design, as an occasional actor, a director, and a board member.

Army had a “pun-ishing” sense of humor and was known for his smooth dance moves. He loved gardening, travel, and making things with his hands (often out of recycled materials). In the Armstrong tradition, he was generous with friends and strangers alike—quick to offer a meal, a couch, or a few dollars to anyone in need. He was a loving and supportive son, husband, father, stepfather, and grandfather.

Army is survived by his wife Cecilia Girz; children Alison (Tom) Taylor and Elmer David Armstrong (Erin Leonard); stepchildren Geoff (Jamie) Griffith, Cara Lan, and Ariana Griffith; six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. He is also survived by his sisters Paula Merrick, Peggy Kline, and Trish Feifer, and numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, his first wife Doris, and his stepson Sean Griffith.

A Celebration of Life will be held, Sat., Sept. 28 from 2:30-4:30 at the Boulder Friends Meeting House, 1825 Upland Ave., Boulder.

Memorial contributions can be made to the charity of your choice or the American Near East Rescue Aid (anera.org).

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2 thoughts on “Elmer Powell Armstrong”

  1. Thank you for capturing your dad’s well lived life. The photographs of him are beautiful! I have fond memories of Army’s involvement at the Nomad Theatre. He and Doris were stalwart volunteers who gave generously of their time and talent. I remember Nomads with love of my own involvement as a director, backstage whatever-was-needed and board member, back in what I like to call “the Golden Years” of community theatre when Nomads was the only gig in town (apart from C.U.) I also seem to recall that El Armstrong at age 12 provided his magic skills in my production of “Godspell”. It’s wonderful to remember all the Armstrong family and what amazing contributions your dad made with his professional contributions as a filmmaker and a teacher and encourager of budding film artists. I see El’s name doing sound many times at area theatre company productions. Following in his dad’s footsteps. Best wishes to all the family as you celebrate Army’s life and hold precious memories as comfort as life moves on without him.

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