Armstrong Field dedicated at MHSPublished 2:12am Saturday, September 7, 2002
ARMSTRONG TRIBUTE / From left, Dane Ethridge, Amy Ethridge, Dottie Armstrong and Andy Armstrong watch as Meridian High School principal James Bounds presents a plaque to Margaret Armstrong commemorating the dedication of the football field at Ray Stadium to the memory of her late husband, Charles A. Armstrong. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
September 7, 2002
Under the lights at Ray Stadium during half-time of the Wildcats' home opener, and to the tune of "Amazing Grace," the football field was dedicated Friday night in honor of Charles A. Armstrong.
Armstrong's widow, Margaret, and their four children sat in the middle of a half-circle on the 40 yard line of the field's south end with family, friends, educators and coaches on either side while songs and tributes were dedicated to the man who dedicated his life to education and athletics at Meridian High.
Charles Armstrong came to Meridian High School in 1953. He served as head football coach and athletic director until 1960, then headed Meridian Junior College and Meridian High School from 1960-1963.
He served as Meridian High's principal from 1963-1980, guiding court-ordered desegregation of the city's only public high school to a peaceful commencement in January 1970.
Armstrong died July 20, 2001, at the age of 82.
Armstrong's daughter, Susan Schoket, said her family spent a lot of years watching Wildcat football and that dedicating the football field to her father is "pretty awesome."
Andy Armstrong said his father maintained a love affair with the Wildcats long after his retirement. Margaret was a part of his life since the couple met when they were 4 and 5 years old, beginning their relationship as neighbors. Schoket said it was her mother who first taught her daddy how to play football.
Armstrong played professional football before serving in the Navy during World War II. He returned to football after the war as a coach and mentor to students who would refer to him affectionately, and mostly beyond earshot, as "Charlie A."
Three of Armstrong's grandchildren were playing high school football Friday night in Oklahoma and Kansas and were unable to attend the Meridian-Starkville game.
Of the special occasion, Margaret Armstrong said, "I'm thrilled with the dedication. People have been so loving and we are so proud."