On July 30, a socially distanced crowd of 60 coworkers and friends gathered in the parking lot of the Rogelio Sanchez State Jail in far East El Paso to remember the life of Robert “Bob” Armstrong, a nurse practitioner for Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, who passed from complications related to COVID-19 on June 16.
Armstrong’s supervisor, Denise DeShields, M.D., executive medical director for TTUHSC Managed Care, remembered him for his compassion and diligence of service to his patients, colleagues and students.
“He was a giant of a man in both presence and kindness,” Dr. DeShields said. “Working with Bob for 22 years, I know he left no job undone. He was always compelling others to do better and be better.”
Armstrong served as the TTUHSC director of nurses and facility health administrator for the Rogelio Sanchez State Jail from 1998 until 2002. In 2013, after receiving his M.S.N., he returned to the jail to serve as a nurse practitioner.
His dedication to patient care was matched by his passion for teaching future health care workers. Students from TTUHSC El Paso’s Foster School of Medicine complete rotations at the jail as part of their clinical work.
“My time with N.P. Armstrong at the Sanchez unit had a huge impact on me,” said Tiffany Guerra, a Foster School of Medicine student. “He’s the prime example of how I want to practice medicine in the future. Armstrong showed me how to have strength and empathy, and how to treat everyone equally, no matter their past.”
A barrage of memories and reflections of benevolence from the Foster School of Medicine’s Class of 2021 were collected following Armstrong’s passing. Students have a collective memory of Armstrong being “honest, sincere and dedicated to providing quality care.”
“I’ll remember Mr. Armstrong for his encouragement, guidance and his temperament,” said K. Marie Traylor. “Every morning started with a heartfelt ‘good morning’ and every day ended with a ‘see you next time.’”
“He was compassionate, down-to-earth, knowledgeable and always put others before himself. During my short time with him, Mr. Armstrong made me feel like family and always reminded me to stay motivated throughout life,” said Roshni Mandania. “He used to joke about how he’d never run out of doctors to call upon because of the numerous medical students that had the opportunity to rotate with him.”
He is survived by his wife, Dr. Wendy Lara of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and daughter, Maggie Mae Armstrong, of El Paso.
Bob, until we “see you next time.”