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Windswept – Trustee Profile: Tom Armstrong, Jr.

If an interest in the outdoors and a devotion to mountain climbing are important prerequisites to trusteeship in the Observatory -- and they certainly have been in the past -- then Tom Armstrong comes to his new responsibility well suited.

Born in Portland, Maine, in 1957 to Tom and Rachel Armstrong, young Tom's introduction to the White Mountains was not long in coming. The family spent considerable time in the Squam Lake area, and that served as a base for many hiking expeditions. Tom senior was an avid hiker as well as a member of the Observatory and, together with his son, hiked all the 4,000 footers in the White Mountains. The last of those peaks climbed was Cannon, in 1979, when Tom was 22 years of age. Those early trips, memories of which are cherished, were the beginning of a lifelong pursuit. Over the years, Tom has climbed Mount Washington over fifty times, mostly in winter as training for other expeditions. He has climbed Denali in Alaska, Mount Logan in the Yukon, and Mount Ranier in Washington. He has also climbed extensively in the Tetons, and in 1990 was a member of the successful American, Soviet, and Chinese International Peace Climb of Everest.

The Armstrongs: Elizabeth, Tom, Jr., and Alexandra

In addition to mountaineering, Tom is a cyclist, a cross-country skier, and a sea kayaker. He has run the Mount Washington road race, participated in four Canadian ski marathons, and kayaked from the northern tip of Cape Breton to New York City. The list of his outdoor accomplishments is as impressive as it is long!

After graduating from Dennison University in 1980, he went on to teach environmental science at Holderness School in Plymouth, New Hampshire, for five years. While there, he ran the school's outdoor programs, a high point of which were the trips to the summit of Mount Washington. His used to bring his classes up in the fall for a tour of the Observatory and a little direct experience of the meteorology and geology of the summit.

Tom left the teaching profession in 1985 to work for L.L. Bean Not surprisingly, given his experience, Tom is now Vice President of Outdoor Apparel and Footwear for one of the nation's most respected and best known manufacturers and distributors of outdoor clothing and equipment.

Tom married his wife, Elizabeth in 1994. The couple live in Yarmouth, Maine, and have a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Alexandra, whom Tom is anxious to accompany to the summit.

Tom was President of the board of Maine Audubon Society from 1996 to 1999, and is currently an advisory trustee for that organization.

Last spring, partly through his association with fellow Squam Lake resident, Bryant Tolles, Jr., he became a trustee of the Mount Washington Observatory. He hopes to utilize his interest in the outdoors, environmental sciences, and marketing to assist the Observatory in succeeding in it mission. "The OBS is engaged in some very exciting and cutting edge research and educational efforts. My hopes are to support the organization as it grows and broadens it reach to students, scientists, and those who love the outdoors."


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