Sweet Briar is mourning the loss of two longtime community members. Gregory Armstrong, 80, Charles A. Dana Professor of Religion (emeritus), died on July 2. Professor emerita of library science Patricia Smith Wright, 79, died on July 4.
Armstrong taught at Sweet Briar from 1968 to 1996 and lived in Amherst County for 40 years. He was an active volunteer and leader in the community, according to an article in the New Era-Progress. He brought the same dedication and stewardship to Sweet Briar, says his good friend and colleague Ron Horwege.
“Throughout his tenure at Sweet Briar, Greg was a leader among the faculty,” says Horwege, a recently retired German professor who joined the faculty a few years after Armstrong.
The two men worked closely together, Horwege says, noting they had mutual interests: Armstrong earned his Doctor of Theology at Heidelberg University and they shared a love of Germany.
“He took on many committee tasks and was always prepared to be a spokesman for his colleagues and to confront administrators and demand justification for administrative actions,” Horwege says. “He commanded respect from all with whom he worked, both at the College and within the local community.”
A service for Armstrong was held July 5. For more information, see the obituary.
Wright worked at the College’s Cochran Library for 30 years, retiring in 1997 when she and her husband, professor emeritus of classical studies Kenneth Wright Jr., retired to their home in Towson, Md. In a Baltimore Sun news obituary, she is remembered for her love of scholarship, travel, music and sports. She was a particular fan of her hometown Major League Baseball team, the Orioles, and a patron of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Wright’s Sweet Briar friends recall her enthusiasm for baseball as well, but also an excellent librarian with a gentle sense of humor.
“She was a wonderful colleague and was always ready with a lovely understated humor to ease everyone’s day,” says John Jaffe, director of Cochran Library and integrated information systems. “She truly loved her hometown of Baltimore and was a very gifted librarian and directed the library when the director was away.”
Patricia and Kenneth Wright were good friends with Greg and his wife, Edna Armstrong, recalls Wright’s daughter, Katherine Baumgartner.
“Greg and Edna were frequent guests at our home on Faculty Row,” she said.
Both Kenneth Wright and Edna Armstrong survive their spouses.