ANNE LEGENDRE ARMSTRONG, former United States Ambassador to Great Britain, advisor to four U.S. Presidents, Chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Regent of The Texas A & M University System, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, died peacefully in Houston, Texas, on July 30, 2008. She was 80.
Armstrong was an inspiration for generations of women who followed in the trail she blazed. She served as Co-Chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1971 to 1973, the first woman to hold such a position for either national political party. In 1972 she was the first woman to deliver a keynote address at a national political convention.
President Richard M. Nixon appointed her to serve as Counsellor to the President with cabinet rank, a position she continued to hold under President Gerald R. Ford, who later appointed her Ambassador to the Court of St. James's. She was the first woman to hold this title. In 1980 Armstrong became Co-Chairman of the Reagan-Bush campaign. In 1981 President Ronald Reagan appointed her Chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board where she advised him, and later President George H. W. Bush, on matters of intelligence and foreign policy during the height of the Cold War. She held the position until 1990.
Armstrong and her husband Tobin were active in Texas politics throughout their lives and are credited with having helped establish Texas as a two party state. She succeeded Tobin after his death in 2005 as a Commissioner of Kenedy County, Texas, and held the office until her death. To honor her career of patriotic service Armstrong was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1987 by President Reagan, who said upon the occasion, "Her skill and unstinting effort in the service of her country have earned her the gratitude of our nation."
In addition to her accomplishments in the political arena, Armstrong served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as a Regent of Texas A & M University, and as a director on the boards of many corporations such as General Motors, American Express, Boise Cascade, Glaxo-Wellcome, and Halliburton.
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on December 27th, 1927, Armstrong graduated valedictorian from Foxcroft School, where she was head of the student body. In 1949 she received her B.A. degree from Vassar College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in her junior year. In 1950 she married Tobin Armstrong and moved to his family's ranch in South Texas, where they raised five children . They enjoyed a remarkable and devoted marriage of 55 years. The Armstrong Ranch remained her home throughout her adult life. Those who visited the ranch will remember the warmth that complemented her intelligence and unwavering resolve. She enjoyed hunting, fishing and the affection of an extended family and many friends.
Armstrong was predeceased by her husband, Tobin Armstrong, her parents, Armant and Olive Legendre, and her brother, James M. Legendre. She is survived by her five children: J. Barclay Armstrong and wife Nancy and their children John, Alston and Judd; Katharine Armstrong Love and husband Ben and her children Anne, Karsten and Barclay Idsal; Sarita Armstrong Hixon and husband Bob and their children Gideon, Alex, Tom and Tobin; James Armstrong and wife Lucy; Tobin Armstrong, Jr. and wife Ardon and their children Sallie, Tobin III and Phineas; a sister, Katharine Legendre King and her children; and a nephew, Armant Legendre.
Visitation will be held at the Armstrong Ranch, Armstrong, Texas on Friday, August 1, 2008 from 2:00 PM until 6:00 PM. A private burial service for immediate family members will be held in Austin, Texas.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 PM on Friday, August 15, 2008 at Rudder Auditorium, Texas A&M University campus, College Station, Texas.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Mrs. Armstrong's name to The Center for Strategic and International Studies, Texas A&M University c/o Texas A&M Foundation, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, or The Tobin and Anne Armstrong Texas Ranger Research Center, PO Box 2570, Waco, TX 76702-2570.