St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Kenneth Armstrong 1932-2014

   Kenny Armstrong was my school bus driver, and a fellow member of the Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society as well as a neighbor and friend.  He had a long struggle with cancer. A year ago he and Margo ran into each other at the radiation treatment center in Mayo Clinic at Rochester as he was completing a round of treatment.  

   As a kid, we classified farmers as to the kind of tractor they drove.  Dad was a Farmall man, Raymond Noyes (a cousin to Ken) was a John Deere man, and Ken liked Allis Chalmers! He farmed the land around the Cushing School (community center) and we often watched him with his machinery out in the fields while we were students, and talked to him about it when he drove the bus.  He took the time to explain how a WD had two clutches that made it good for an Allis round baler and the other advantages of an Allis.
   He supported the Sterling Eureka and Laketown historical society and often visited with us at the museum.  His grandfather, Sheldon, was an early settler in West Sterling and then in Cushing. He had a fine appreciation for his own family history as well as that of the area.  

    In the 1950s, his father Ray, hired my Dad, Vivian Hanson and his brother Maurice Hanson to put a foundation under a part of the historic house at Cushing.  I remember Dad telling how the center of the old kitchen was sagging, with a crawl space under it.  They got in and found the center of the floor had been resting on an old stump that after 100 years had given way.  The Armstrong farm historical sign along the road says 1872 as the starting date for the farm on the plains north of Cushing.

   The big hills on the west side of the farm are gravel piles left by the glaciers.  I think they would be called either eskers, drumlins or whatever means a series of hills with gravel deposits. In fact, the big hill just south of the farm that Cushing sits on is really a pile of gravel too.  Ray and then Kenny sold gravel to the neighbors for their driveways, for road building and fill.  Watching them load a truck with gravel was pretty exciting for us kids.  

   Ken was a good school bus driver.   We kids liked him and were pretty well behaved when he drove us on those long trips to St Croix Falls from out on the Barrens.   Driving a school bus takes a great deal of patience and a great deal of care--to watch over all the kids safety and rambunctiousness.  He did it with grace, and cared for his charges as if they were his own children.  
 He was a good man and Cushing will miss him.

Obituary From the Rowe Funeral Home website. 

Kenneth L. Armstrong
(January 7, 1932 - February 12, 2014)

Kenneth Lynn Armstrong of Cushing entered his eternal rest on Wednesday, February 12, 2014.  His journey on this earth ended in his home surrounded by the love and support of his family.

Kenneth was born on January 7, 1932 to Ray and Sophie Armstrong of Cushing, WI.  He grew up and attended school in Cushing and St. Croix Falls.

Ken married his wife of 54 years, Marlys Jorgensen on September 11, 1959.  Together, they proudly raised their four daughters and were eventually blessed with 7 grandchildren and a great-grandson.  They lived and raised their family on the Armstrong Century Farm.

Farming was an important part of his life.  Most of his life was spent as a dairy farmer with a fine herd of Holstein cows.  As the years passed, the Holsteins were replaced with beef cattle.  In addition to his farming endeavors, he enjoyed driving school bus and drove for St. Croix Falls School District for 35 years.  He enjoyed his Allis Chalmers equipment and operated a backhoe and a gravel hauling business.

No matter how busy the farming was, he found time to be a loving Dad to his daughters and “Papa” to his grandkids.  He had a great sense of adventure that took him to the air in a hot air balloon, flying in a private plane, and went deep sea fishing.  He enjoyed his grandkids’ activities, such as horse shows, sheep shows, pig shows, hockey games, basketball games and ski races. Ken and Marlys enjoyed making new friends during their casino visits.

He had the priceless gift of instilling strong values in his family, not by words but by living those values each day of his life.  He will be greatly missed in all of his roles, but most especially in that of devoted and loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.  It is in those roles that he leaves us a unique and unforgettable legacy.

Kenneth leaves behind his wife, Marlys Armstrong; his four daughters, Debbie Petzel (Mark Petzel) of Centuria, WI, Tara Yunker (Jay Yunker) of St. Croix Falls, WI, Jill Armstrong (Jeff Bohn) of Amery, WI and Jodi Bergstrom (Cary Bergstrom) of Cushing, WI ; his grandchildren, Lindsay Anderson (Neal) of Bagley, MN, Katie Petzel, Emily Petzel, Haley Yunker, Joshua Bohn, Grace Bergstrom and Joseph Bohn and great-grandson, Morgan Anderson; his sister, Lucille Anton and many nieces and nephews.  He was preceded in death by his parents, Ray and Sophie Armstrong; his brother, Leon and sister-in-law, Rose; and his brother-in-law, Cal Anton.

Memorial services will take place at 2 pm on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at First Lutheran Church in Cushing. WI.  Pastor Elaine Silpala will officiate.  Visitation will take place at the church on Tuesday from 1:00 pm until the time of service.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given in Ken’s name to First Lutheran Church in Cushing.

Online condolences may be left at  or  Please refer to these websites for updated information.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Rowe Funeral Home of Luck and the Northwest Wisconsin Cremation Center in Milltown, 715-472-2444 or 715-825-5550.