“He was just — he made us all feel at home. He treated everybody the same, which we really appreciate. It didn’t make any difference whether you were a senator ... there was one line,” the Maryland Democrat said. “Just a really, really respectful individual, and [he] just ran that place with such class. So, it’s a huge loss for this institution.
“I eat here frequently because of the quality and because of him,” Cardin said, standing in the Capitol basement not far from the carryout. “It’s part of this institution, and it’s part of a great tradition, and he created a legacy that won’t ever be forgotten.
“It’s the best food anywhere around here. It’s home cooking,” Cardin added.
There was more to Armstrong than just his job, though he took it seriously, Ward said. His family and prayer were the most important things in his life.
He is survived by a large family he loved dearly and that loved him back in spades: four children, 10 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, four brothers, four sisters and many nieces and nephews. At one point, according to his brother, Armstrong had re-enlisted in the military because one of his daughters was sick and he needed to be able to afford her health care.
“He loved his family. He loved children,” Jackie Ray Armstrong said. “If you bring a baby by him and a baby is real cute and has those little puffy cheeks, you better take him back from Ivey because he was gonna [kiss] that baby’s jaw until it turned red. That was just one thing that made him so happy.”
Armstrong was known for his quiet manner, but was in many ways a patriarch of his family in thought and deed — the person others looked to when they wanted to know more about the family history or talk about the Bible. Most years, around Easter, Armstrong would read the Bible cover to cover. He loved to keep journals and his brother said he was the official family historian, keeping piles of huge 3- or-4-inch binders. He also would study the dictionary and would flash a “humongous vocabulary” he had picked up from his reading.
“He was a stargazer. He loved to watch the stars and the formation of clouds. He was unique in every way,” his brother said.
Armstrong loved to cook and pray and sing for his family, and he had a very distinctive laugh, one that those in the Capitol who saw him every day were sometimes lucky enough to hear.
“The thing that I probably will miss most about him is his laugh. And I loved his singing voice. He had such a wonderful singing voice,” his sister said.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.