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Martin Robert Armstrong, legendary lineman, beloved husband, father, brother, uncle, and grandfather, said “Enough” on December 31, 2023, when he refused to deviate from his long ago decided end-of-life wishes despite significant pressure from the attending physicians. With his own voice, the decision was his and his alone and he never wavered. His youngest son Wayne and daughter-in-law Jolanta Armstrong never left his side.
Martin was born on July 31, 1940, in Lewellen, Nebraska, the son of Bud and Elaine Armstrong. Bud, Elaine, Martin, Jaunita, Billy, and Marilyn moved about 30 miles down the road to Ogallala in the early 50s. As an 8th grader, Martin’s family moved to New Mexico and Martin graduated from Albuquerque High in 1959, becoming a lifelong proud and loyal Bulldog. Martin joined the IBEW as an apprentice lineman in 1959 and has been a Local 611 member ever since. He received his 60-year certificate and pin in 2019, missing out on 65 by less than a year.
On July 28, 1962, Martin married the love of his life, Maida Lindley Blackman, the pride of Hurley, NM. Martin and Maida, two small-town kids longing for a little more space, moved the family just outside of Albuquerque to Peralta, NM in 1973. Constantly traveling, Martin rose up the ranks as a journeyman lineman, foreman, and superintendent. Hoping to spend a little more time at home, he even lasted 4 years in an office at the Union Hall as an Assistant Business Agent. Tired of working for others, Martin founded his own high-voltage power line construction business, New Mexico Pole Line (NMPL) in 1977. In 1996, after his children were grown, he and Maida moved to Silver City, New Mexico, where he continued running his business and Maida could be closer to her family. He never retired; he simply ran out of qualified people to man the projects. In 2019, 42 years after its formation, NMPL built its last power line.
Martin will be remembered for his utter fearlessness in every situation he encountered with the exception of being without his wife, who passed tragically in 2017. Having lived through the untimely death of his oldest son Vance in 1985, outliving Maida was simply too much. He mostly abandoned the only hobbies he ever had, which included a love of Texas Hold’em poker and flying his single-engine Piper Cherokee 235. When possible, he took great joy in catching up with surviving friends from Nebraska and New Mexico. He particularly enjoyed hearing from any and all of the apprentice linemen he trained and mentored over the years, which made him feel as if he contributed to keeping the trade alive.
Martin is survived by a large and thriving family, including his daughter, Dana, son, Wayne, daughter-in-law Jolanta, grandchildren Leah and Natalie, sister, Marilyn, brother Bill, and numerous nieces, and nephews. He was preceded in death by his son, Vance, father, Bud, mother, Elaine, sister, Jaunita, and wife, Maida.
Draucker Funeral Home of Ogallala, Nebraska, and East Lawn Palms Mortuary in Tucson, Arizona, will help implement Martin’s final arrangements. Per his specific instructions, there will be no formal services. Martin’s remains will be combined with Maida’s and will rest at Ash Hollow Cemetery in Lewellen, Nebraska.