Official Obituary of

Lois Irene (Hite) Armstrong

February 24, 2024 (age 91) 91 Years Old

Lois Armstrong Obituary

    Lois Irene Armstrong (née Hite): An amazing life lived!
    Lois Irene Armstrong (née Hite) passed on Saturday, 24 February 2024, in her home in Lewistown,
surrounded by her sons. Lois was born in East Pittsburgh, PA in June of 1932, the daughter of John and Edna
Hite. John Hite was originally from Belsano, PA and Edna (née James) was originally from Ebensburg, PA.
Lois was the tenth of eleven siblings, and her father John was a plumber working for Westinghouse Air
Brake in Pittsburgh, and her mother Edna was a homemaker.
    Lois was a 1950 graduate of East Pittsburgh High School, and after graduation, attended the Pittsburgh
Playhouse to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. Lois took acting classes at the Pittsburgh
playhouse as well as working full-time at the Union Railroad as a shipping clerk. While at the Pittsburgh
Playhouse, Lois met and worked with such luminaries as Bill Putch and his wife Jean Stapleton (who
played Edith Bunker in the hit television series Archie Bunker), Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., Shirley
Jones, and Gene Kelly. Lois also met a lady named Helen Armstrong. It was in 1953 that Lois met
Helen’s older brother George H. Armstrong, who was to become her future husband. George was
originally from Turtle Creek, PA, and they married in December 1953.
    After their wedding, Lois and George Mom - departed for Harbel, Liberia, as George had been working at
the Firestone Rubber Plantation in Liberia for ten years at that point as a Tropical Horticulture expert in
Rubber, Oil Palm, Cacao, etc. They honeymooned at the George V Hotel in Paris, France, and in Lisbon,
Portugal, prior to their arrival in Liberia. Lois and George lived and worked in Liberia for the next three
years, with Lois working at the Pan American Flying Clippers Seaplane base at “Fisherman’s Lake” in
Liberia, while George grew rubber for Firestone. Lois and George’s first son, Bruce, was born Christmas
Day 1954 in Liberia. In Liberia, Lois started what would become a lifelong occupation and passion of
hers in support of George’s career….organizing and hosting dinner and cocktail parties for various
Embassy staff, Expatriate community members, and local Government Ministries personnel. Lois was an
amazing cook and honed her culinary skills while cooking for the various parties she hosted. It was
during this time that Lois “invented” her alternative take on traditional white potato salad for George,
which the Armstrong family subsequently called “Mom’s secret-ingredient potato salad”, and it was
such a hit, that it became a staple at all her parties and family reunions for the next 70 years. Lois took
on George’s farming roots as well, and started the first of her many menageries, raising dogs, chickens,
ducks and various jungle deer and antelopes while living in Liberia.
    Lois, George, and Bruce returned to the US in 1956 to run and work on the 412 acre family farm that
George had bought in 1950 in Lockport, PA. In 1966, Lois, George, and their now four sons, departed to
Benin City, Nigeria to continue pursuing George’s career as a Tropical Horticulturist with USAID. Lois,
George, and the boys lived in Nigeria over most of the next six years. While in Benin City, Lois acted as
George’s personal secretary in drafting and typing his myriad of official USAID reports, as well as
organizing and hosting the numerous dinner and cocktail parties while showing off her cooking skills for
Embassy staff, Government Ministries personnel, and members of the myriad Expatriate communities of
Benin City, with the parties sometimes consisting of up to more than 100 people from more than two
dozen countries around the world. On one trip back to Benin City from a US Embassy visit in Lagos,
Nigeria, Lois, George and four boys were almost all killed when they mistakenly drove through a small
village that was in the throes of a palm-wine infused local pagan religious festival, and their vehicle was
attacked by machete-wielding drunken villagers. On another trip, this time from Benin City to the
capital city of Lagos, anti-Nigerian Government protestors caused traffic jams that trapped Lois, George,

and the boys in their vehicle while the Federal Nigerian security forces were launching teargas canisters
at the protestors, resulting in the Lois and family getting a healthy dose of teargas before the riots were
broken up. In July 1967, the Biafran Civil War broke out in Nigeria, between the Nigerian Government
and separatist groups in the eastern part of the country. Lois and boys were evacuated back to United
States and their farm in Lockport, to escape the violence, with George joining them several months
later. After six months, Lois and family returned to Benin City. The Nigerian Army had installed an anti-
aircraft gun emplacement on top of an abandoned church under construction not 200 yards from the
Armstrong home, and at random times, mainly at night, the Nigerian soldiers would begin shooting at
small airplanes flying overhead which were supposedly attempting to smuggle goods and weapons to
the rebels in the east. Lois and the family would go outside on their front lawn to watch the “fireworks”
as the anti-aircraft shells tore up through the night sky. Lois also had the lead in not only raising her four
sons overseas, but was responsible for home schooling them as well, in addition to continuing the
tradition of a family menagerie that now included two chimpanzees, three dogs, a cat, a pig, a goat,
turkeys, a chameleon, various duiker antelopes, and a tropical bird aviary installed on the front porch
with zebra finches and other exotic birds. George planted a huge garden in the back of their house, and
Lois made homemade jams, jellies, cookies, bread and pies from the pineapples, oranges, lemons, limes,
guavas, papayas, bananas, and mangos that grew in their backyard.
    Lois returned to their farm in Lockport in 1971 to put her sons in school, and George returned from
Nigeria to their farm the following summer in 1972. While back in the US, Lois and George lived
variously at their farm in Lockport, and several different residences in northern Virginia & the
Washington DC area. In 1977, George received another overseas assignment, this time to Cairo, Egypt,
and Lois and sons Scott, Dale and Doug joined George in Cairo. Lois and George and sons eventually
settled in the quiet suburb of Ma’adi, south of Cairo, where Lois continued her expertise of coordinating
and hosting entertaining Embassy, Ministry and Expatriate dinners & cocktail parties as well as preparing
the expansive menus and cooking all the food required for the entertaining. Lois continued to pursue a
professional career as well and got a job as a computer trainer and secretary in the USAID office in the
American Embassy, Cairo, Egypt. Continuing her love of acting from her Pittsburgh Playhouse days, Lois
helped to establish the Ma’adi, Egypt Theater group, and co-starred in several play productions, in
addition to helping plan and open a local restaurant in Ma’adi. Later, Lois along with sons Scott, Dale,
and Doug, were hired as background extras for the film “Sphinx”, starring Lesley-Anne Down, Frank
Langella, John Geilgud, John Rhy-Davies, and Saeed Jaffrey, which was filmed in Cairo in 1980. Lois has
several extensive appearances in the movie as a character actress in the background. The menagerie in
Cairo included chickens raised in the back yard, zebra finches in a birdcages in the house, a huge tropical
fish aquarium, and the soft coo of desert collared doves could be heard as they nested on Lois and
George’s bedroom windowsills. There were guavas and mangos in the yard outside, and Lois continued
her tradition of making pies, cookies, jellies, and jams, as well as homemade chocolate easter eggs,
banana breads and whoopie pies! From their home in Ma’adi, Lois and George vacationed variously in
Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Crete, and Cyprus.
    In 1981, Lois, George and the boys returned to their farm in Lockport for several years, with George
continuing to work at USAID, and the family splitting time between Lockport and northern Virginia. In
1983, Lois and George received their last overseas assignment, and went to Khartoum, Sudan for
George’s final work stint with USAID. They were joined in Khartoum for a while by their son, Doug, and
visited by their son Dale who was stationed with the Marine Corps at that time in the Arabian Gulf.

    During their time in Khartoum, Lois worked in the American Embassy, Khartoum, as a secretary in the
Refugees Affairs Coordinator’s office. While working in the Refugees Affairs Office, Lois was involved
with Operation Moses, and ongoing effort to evacuate Falasha Jews from Ethiopia to Israel via Sudan
from 1984 – 1986. As a result, in April 1986, Lois barely survived an attempted kidnapping/assassination
attempt by a terrorist group, hostile to the evacuation operation taking place. Only quick-thinking and
timely intervention by Lois’ Sudanese driver, saved her from a potentially grisly fate. Later that same
day the same group managed to shoot and seriously wound a colleague of theirs, as he walked out of
the US Embassy front gate. Lois & George were emergency evacuated from Khartoum to Nairobi, Kenya
along with most of the rest of the Embassy staff as a result, and from there to the United States for
several months before they were allowed to return to the US Embassy in Khartoum. On occasion, Lois
would join George when he had to fly in small private planes to visit the south of Sudan, and check on
his poultry and aquaculture projects. Several times on these flights south, Lois and George would see
the trails of anti-aircraft missiles fly by their planes, fired from below by anti-Sudanese Government
rebels then locked in a civil war with the Sudanese central government. Lois and George lived in a
second story apartment in Khartoum, so the menagerie tradition came to an end, but the soft coo of the
desert collared doves remained, as they nested again on the windowsills of Lois and George’s bedroom.
Lois also helped to host Vice President George H. Bush and boxer Muhammed Ali when they visited the
US Embassy in Khartoum. Both Lois and George retired in 1988 and returned to Lockport and their farm.
    After returning to Lockport in 1988, Lois and George bought a second home two miles away from their
farm to relax in retirement and concentrate on their extended growing family that now was beginning to
include grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Now the soft coo of mourning doves could be heard
every day, as doves nested once again on Lois & George’s bedroom windowsills! Lois rejoined the
Mifflin County Garden Club, which she had been a member of since the 1960’s and helped lead that
organization well into her 80’s. Lois was also involved with the Blue Star Memorial effort, as part of her
Garden Club activities. In addition, Lois worked variously at the Gift Mint in Lewistown and the United
Way. Lois and George also raised literally dozens of types of flowers and vegetables for show in various
fairs around Mifflin County, and between them, won scores of blue ribbons for “Best in Show”.
    In 2005, at the young age of 73 years old, Lois was diagnosed as the second oldest survivor in medical
history, at that time, with Atrial Septal Defect otherwise known as “hole in heart” or “blue baby”
syndrome, a condition her infant baby sister Martha had died from a few short days after birth. Lois
underwent a successful medical procedure at Hershey Medical Center to correct the defect and lived an
astonishing 19 more years! A true walking medical miracle!
    Lois was pre-deceased in 2009 by her beloved husband of 56 years, George H. Armstrong, who helped
enable her fantastic life with his career overseas as a Tropical Horticulturalist. Lois and George had lived
in Liberia (3 years for Lois, 13 years for George), Nigeria (5 years for Lois, 6 years for George), 4 years in
Egypt, and 5 years in Sudan. In addition, together they visited Canada, the UK, France, Spain, Portugal,
Holland, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Crete, and Switzerland, among others.
    Lois was also predeceased by her oldest son, Bruce, in 1988; her father John Flemmon Hite, mother
Edna James Hite, and siblings John Allen Hite (killed in Achen, German during the Battle of the Bulge,
WWII, US Army), Thomas James Hite, Esther Pearl Welty, Eleanor Dorothy Intine, Lula Mae Sloss,
Genevieve Ruth Mathers, Harry Francis Hite (US Army), Donald Raymond Hite (US Air Force), Robert
Louis Hite (US Army), and Martha Hite.

    Lois is survived by her sons George Scott and “Junior” the cat; Dale and his wife Marlyn, and
granddaughters Karren Jimenez, Isabelle, and Gabrielle and grandson Thomas George; son Douglas and
his wife Marjory with grandchildren George, Elliott & Samantha; daughter-in-law Pamela Armstrong,
with granddaughter Jennifer Barker (husband Scott), great-grandchildren Alyssa Baumgardner (husband
Gage), Brady and Cale Barker, and great-great-grandchildren AnnaMae & Jameson; grandson Bruce
David Junior, spouse Trista and their daughter Eliza.
    Lois lived a long, entertaining and exciting life, leaving a legacy of great hosting, outstanding parties and
dinners, tremendous cooking skills and amazing food, care of animals, and love of gardening, as well as
friendships that extended from Canada to Mexico, Ireland, the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Denmark,
Finland, Italy, Bulgaria, Russia, Australia, Liberia, Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and
South Korea. But more importantly, despite the myriad of moves and multitude of change of
backgrounds and cultures, Lois provided a steady hand, stability, and a sense of “home” for her husband
George and sons Bruce, Scott, Dale, and Doug, regardless of where they were living at the time.
    As per Lois’ expressed wishes, all funeral arrangements will be private, and by invitation only. There will
be no public viewing, memorial, or burial. A celebration of Lois’ life will be arranged and held at a later
date to be determined.

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