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Robert J. Armstrong (1943-2017): Salesman adept at conversation, Toledo activities

Robert J. Armstrong, a skilled salesman and a retired vice president of the Bostwick-Braun Co., the hardware distributor with Toledo roots in the mid-19th century, died Jan. 7 under hospice care the Otterbein at Monclova skilled nursing facility. He was 73.

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Armstrong

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He learned in November that he had a glioblastoma, a malignant and inoperable brain tumor, his family said.

Mr. Armstrong of Springfield Township retired from Bostwick in 2000.

“He was always loyal and went to retirees’ luncheons,” his wife, Cassie, said. “He just loved working there. He loved the people he worked with. He missed working.”

He was promoted in 1978 to industrial field sales manager, responsible for all the firm’s general industrial sales activities. By then he was a 12-year veteran of the firm, The Blade reported, and had been industrial sales representative, systems regional manager, systems sales manager, and field sales manager for the Ohio division.

Mr. Armstrong later was manager of the computer ordering program and sales operation manager of the industrial sales division before he was named a vice president and director of industrial sales and later of dealer sales.

“He loved selling, that was the main thing,” his wife said.

He easily struck up conversations wherever he went.

“Bob was a very vivacious, upbeat, positive, bubbly personality and had a giggle or chuckle with every sentence he said,” said Rich Maczka, who was selling building products for another firm when they met in 1979. In recent years they and a group of mutual friends met on occasion for lunch.

“Bob was the life of the party,” Mr. Maczka said. “He knew everything going on in the city of Toledo. He read The Blade cover to cover. He could talk about politics, sports, you name it.”

For several years in retirement, Mr. Armstrong returned to sales, working for tool distributors and calling on machine shops.

“He became a good friend of mine, and he was a good salesman,” said Larry Borden, a factory representative for a manufacturer of cutting tools. “He was a go-getter and my best horse out there.”

He was born Aug. 25, 1943, to Maxine and William Armstrong, and grew up in South Toledo. He was 8-years-old when his father, a New York Central employee was killed in a train accident. His brother, Ronald, was 5.

“He had a lot of responsibility from a very early age,” his wife said. His mother went to work at the Toledo Public Schools administration building, received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toledo, and became an elementary teacher in the Toledo system. She later remarried. She died at age 85 in 2008.

Mr. Armstrong attended UT.

He and his wife had a cottage in Hillsdale County and liked to spend weekends at the Lake Erie shore. He was a devotee of his hometown. He and his wife had season tickets to UT games of football and women’s basketball as well as the Toledo Symphony. They were members of the Toledo Museum of Art and the Toledo Zoo.

“There was nothing better than the Mud Hens and Walleye,” his wife said. “Anything that was Toledo, he participated in.”

He was a member of the Elks in Maumee.

Surviving is his wife, the former Cassie Demski, whom he married Sept. 27, 1985.

Visitation will be from noon-2 p.m. Sunday in Walter Funeral Home, with memorial services afterward.

The family suggests tributes to the American Brain Tumor Association for Glioblstoma, Chicago, or the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Society in Oregon.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.

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