Robert Thomas Armistead died peacefully at his home in Campbell Hall on Tuesday, June 16, 2020, surrounded by his loving family. He was 71 years old.
Robert is survived by the love of his life and wife of more than 50 years, Susan, as well as his children; Robert, Kane and Bryan. He is also survived by his daughters-in-law Kim Noreen and Kimberly, as well as his precious grandchildren Ethan, Robert Wylie, Allison, Logan, Keegan, Maeraid and Kellen. Robert is also survived by his beloved brother and business partner Kevin, sister-in-law, Susan, and their children John, Elizabeth and Lillian. He leaves behind many cousins, friends, and family members that he loved dearly. He also leaves behind his brother Stephen Armistead of Harrington Park, N.J., and was predeceased by his brother Matthew Armistead (Feb. 24,2016) of Oradell, N.J.
Robert was born March 7, 1949, at the Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital in Jersey City, N.J., to Bernice Ann Nolan Armistead and Robert Theodore Armistead. He grew up in Fairlawn, N.J., where he enjoyed Boy Scouts, earning the prestigious rank of Life Scout. Robert attended St. Peter’s Preparatory High School, where he was a participant on the varsity swim team, assisting them to become county champions. His involvement in scouting, as well as his attendance at St. Peter’s, brought him friendships that he cherished and maintained throughout his life.
In his youth, Robert played guitar in a band he had formed with his friends called, The Dischords. Telling tales of these “glory days” was one of his favorite pastimes and was always done with a huge smile on his face.
Robert’s family enjoyed many fond memories at their lakeside home in Yankee Lake, located in Wurtsboro. In the summer of his fourteenth year, Robert met a beautiful young lady named Susan Panitz whom he lovingly called “Elm” and married on Nov. 7, 1969.
Yankee Lake was such a special place to Robert throughout his life. He taught his children and grandchildren to fish and boat there, instilling in them a love for the outdoors and the lake. Robert was an avid sportsman who spent much time in the woods at the Oak Ridge Conservation Club.
In his 71 years of life, Robert traveled the world, yet to him Yankee Lake will always be his “favorite place.” Last year the descendants of the “Reilly Sisters” gathered at Yankee Lake for a family reunion. To be together with extended family at the lake this one last time meant everything to Robert. All the people who planned and attended this special reunion will be forever in our hearts.
Despite his illness, Robert, along with Susan, Rob, Kane, Bryan, Kim, Kimberly and all the grandchildren were blessed to take a trip together to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands last year to celebrate Bob and Susan’s fiftieth wedding anniversary.
Robert attended Villanova University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. He was a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity. During this time, he was also a member of the Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps which eventually led to his service as a Naval Engineering Officer in the United States Navy. He served aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Richard E. Byrd DDG-23, which was stationed with the United States Navy’s 6th Fleet.
Robert was an extraordinary businessman, largely due to his work ethic along with his deep appreciation for all aspects of the mechanical contracting industry. Working alongside his brother Kevin, they built three successful businesses: Armistead Mechanical, Inc., AMI Services, Inc. and Acorn Plumbing and Heating, Inc. Robert was a professional engineer licensed in both New York and New Jersey, a third generation mechanical contractor, as well as a proud member of Plumbers Local Union No. 14 in New Jersey. Robert served over 20 years as a management trustee on a number of benefit funds for the United Association of Pipe Trades throughout New Jersey and New York.
Robert was an active member of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America’s (MCAA) national board of directors since 2003, before becoming the national president of the MCAA in 2010. Robert was also a board chairman of the Mechanical Contracting Education and Research Foundation and a national board member of the Architecture Construction, and Engineering Mentor Program of America, Inc.
Robert was a board member and chairman of the Orange County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and a past chairman of the Board of Directors of the Construction Contractors Association of the Hudson Valley. He was an active supporter of the Hudson Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America. In 2009, the Boy Scouts honored Bob with the Orange County Distinguished Citizen Award.
Armistead Mechanical and Robert were longtime supporters of the Orange County Land Trust. He also sat on the board of directors of Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh.
Robert supported the mission of Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster Counties. He, Kevin Armistead and Armistead Mechanical Inc. received the 2019 Caritas Award which is given to community members who exemplify the agency’s mission to provide help and create hope.
Robert was an active member of St. Mary’s Church in Washingtonville.
Despite all the accolades Robert received during the course of his life time, he remained humble and grounded, always appreciating and giving credit to those who helped him achieve his success. Robert recognized that every employee contributed to the success of the Armistead businesses as did his other partners in business.
The Armistead family would like to thank Robert’s caregivers who gave compassionate care and much needed support to the family, specifically Hospice of Orange & Sullivan’s tireless Lorna, Melanie and Shenay as well as his selfless nurses Epi, Dorota, Maria, Taina, Tammy, and Ryan. The family would also like to extend a special thank you to Father Maurer, who was able to visit with Robert many times during the course of his illness.
Due to the current national health crisis and continuing restrictions, funeral services and interment will take place privately, and a memorial event celebrating Robert’s life will be planned for a later date.
Robert had a way of creating genuine and meaningful connections with those he came in contact with. He connected with many people while on this earth and we encourage friends to share stories, photos and memories of him with the family by sending letters to: The Armisteads at 6 Hilltop Drive in Goshen, NY 10924.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the following organizations:
Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster Counties (www.cccosos.org).
Hospice of Orange and Sullivan (www.hospiceoforange.com).
Orange County Land Trust (www.oclt.org).