May 25, 2005 – Sadness was part of the workday Sunday at the Buccaneer Hotel and Resort. In the words of one long-time maid, it was learned "The Poppa has died."
The Poppa she was referring to was Robert Douglas Armstrong. He was 69 years old.
According to information released by the family, on a routine business trip two weeks ago Armstrong consulted his close friend and family physician in North Carolina about feelings of fatigue. The diagnosis was of a rare and aggressive form of leukemia. In spite of long odds, a program of chemotherapy was begun, and his initial response was positive. As a result he was able to spend several days with his family saying goodbye and settling his affairs. He died peacefully in his sleep Saturday night.
He was born Nov. 22, 1935 on St. Croix, part of the eighth generation of the Armstrong family to live on the island.
The family supplied the following information.
He was raised on the island, attended the Antigua Grammar School and St. Mark's Academy near Boston, then went on to graduate with honors from Princeton University, receiving a degree in Romance Languages.
He returned home to help the family run what was then a small inn, The Buccaneer Hotel. Over the course of the next 47 years he accomplished many milestones in a long and much admired business career.
Under his leadership The Buccaneer became one of the worlds top 500 resort hotels, won numerous awards while becoming an icon in the Caribbean tourism industry, and became what it is today: an island landmark and institution.
Following a lifelong commitment to investing in St. Croix, he transformed the area around the old Christiansted port terminal into the bustling office, commercial and retail center that is today popularly referred to as Gallows Bay.
Ever willing to take on new challenges he started an insurance company, the Companion Assurance Corporation, that offered Virgin Islanders the security of knowing that their risks were covered by a locally owned and operated business that would be there in their times of need.
As the founder of the Bank of St. Croix, he provided the island with the first full service community bank to be started by a native Virgin Islander since his father founded the Virgin Islands National Bank more than 50 years before.
Through these and other investments, such as those in entities as diverse as paving and construction, vehicle sales, rentals and leasing, retail and wholesale hardware and building materials, retail fuel, and real estate development companies he was a continual force for growth and employment on St. Croix. His continual support of charitable causes and individuals too numerous to mention, most often done anonymously, left an imprint on the lives of countless others on St. Croix.
Perhaps less well known, though no less significant, were his achievements in North Carolina, where he was the catalyst for the rebuilding of downtown Asheville, the preservation of large areas of mountain wilderness, and many other business and civic initiatives.
He is survived by his wife Patricia, his sisters Judith and Barbara, his children Douglas, Robert and Elizabeth, and his six grandchildren as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
The family will be holding a memorial service at St. John's Anglican Church at 3 p.m. on June 4th for a celebration of his life.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to the roof repair fund at St. John's in Christiansted.
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