2008-03-13 / Obituaries

Constance W. Armbrust, 100

Constance W. Armbrust, 100, formerly of Elm Street, Jamestown, died on March 7, 2008 at the South County Nursing Center. Connie had celebrated her 100th birthday last fall.

Born on November 7, 1907, in Concord, NH, she was the daughter of Archie and Emily (Dearborn) Warren. In 1921, at the age of 14, she had her first art job painting photos of New Hampshire landscapes for Sawyer Pictures. She received her formal art training at the Manchester Institute of Arts and Sciences, graduating in 1929. After art school, she worked in Boston and studied fashion drawing.

In 1933, she returned to Concord, NH and worked for "The Concord Press" as bookkeeper and artist. While working there she painted a portrait of then US Senator H. Styles Bridges.

Connie married Henry N. Armbrust of Jamestown in 1936 and moved to Providence. After the arrival of their children they moved to Jamestown in 1943.

In 1948, Connie began studying art with Catherine "Kit" Wright. Over the next several years, she also studied decorative painting with Dorothy Mitchell, and other local artists. She taught painting classes within Jamestown's Exchange of Topics and Crafts (E.T.C.) Club, as well as at home and in Wickford at classes, sponsored by the YMCA.

In 1957, Connie created the design for the Jamestown Tercentenary Celebration, which was used on a commemorative plate. The design was also used on the cover of the program for the town's week-long celebration. In the late 1950's, she participated in the restoration of the Jamestown Fire Department's 1854 LaFrance pumper. She restored the original gold leaf design on the wheels and seat of the pumper, as well as painting a new scene for the back of the seat. In gratitude for her artistic contribution, Connie was made an honorary member of the fire department. The pumper is on display at the Jamestown Fire Department Museum.

Connie was a member of the Newport Art Museum and exhibited her work there, and at the South County Art Museum as well. She was a founding member of the Conanicut Island Art Association, participating in both the group's art exhibitions and craft shows.

In 1976, the Bank of Newport commissioned Connie to paint a picture of "Jamestown's Waterfront, circa 1910." It was hung in the bank's Jamestown branch, where it is prominently displayed today.

Many longtime local residents will remember her cutting silhouettes at all the church fairs in Jamestown, as well as at many craft shows around New England. She cut the first of her many silhouettes in 1927. During her career, she also worked in oils, watercolor, and pen and ink.

Connie is well known for her set of mugs with Jamestown scenes, as well as tiles and note cards. In February, 1984, a set of her mugs was presented to President Ronald Reagan at the White House.

In 1999, the US Postal Service used her design on an envelope for a First Day Cancellation commemorating the 250th anniversary of the Beavertail Lighthouse.

On New Year's Eve of 1999, she took the ceremonial last stitch in each of the two Jamestown Quilts created to celebrate the island in the new millennium.

Connie was a communicant of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, where she sang in the choir for over 40 years. She has been involved in many community organizations including the Quononoquott Garden Club, Conanicut Grange, Conanicut Island Art Association, Jamestown Historical Society, Beavertail Lighthouse Museum Association, and Daughters of the American Revolution.

She is survived by her son, Peter H. Armbrust of Murrysville, Penn.; her daughter and son-in-law Linda A. and George Warner of Jamestown; grandchildren, Wendy Harvey and her husband, Paul, and Melissa Burrows and her husband, Edward, of Jamestown; Christopher Warner and his wife, Thea, of Odenton, Md.; Heather Berardinelli and her husband, Patrick, of North Huntingdon, Penn., and David Armbrust and his wife, Rhonda, of Daisyville, Penn. Connie's great-grandchildren are Jessica and Andrew Burrows of Jamestown, Aren and Corbin Warner of Maryland, Nicole and Jacob Berardinelli of Pennsylvania.

Having always been a supporter of organ donation, and a 55-year breast cancer survivor, Connie has donated her body to Brown University Medical School for research.

A memorial service will be held on April 5, at 11 a.m., at St. Matthew's Church, Jamestown. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum Association, or to the Jamestown School Art Department for supplies and programs.

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