John Ross Armitage, age 88 years of Niles, Michigan died peacefully at 6:55 p.m. on Monday, May 13, 2019 with family gathered at Spectrum Lakeland Hospital – Niles following a brief illness.
He was born on March 26, 1931 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio to Herbert Frederick and Arminta Madelyne (Queen) Armitage. He was graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School, and earned his Associates Degree from Southwestern Michigan College. He enlisted in the United States Air Force and served as a radio operator/interceptor/cryptologist. His military record included “USAFSS” which only ten years ago was declassified to reveal the United States Air Force Security Service, the top one-half of one percent of all recruits given the highest security clearance to monitor and analyze the most sensitive communications. He was Honorably Discharged as a Veteran of the Korean Conflict.
John returned from the service to Niles and was employed by several area firms before beginning a career with the American Automobile Association – AAA – office in Niles and establishing the “Triple-A” office in Dowagiac, Michigan.
He was a member of the Wesley United Methodist Church in Niles, a Charter Member of the Dowagiac JayCees, and a Charter Member of the Niles Noon Optimist Club. In the ‘70s, John worked with the Optimists to sponsor the Niles Soapbox Derby; in the 80’s helped establish the Optimist Soccer League, and in the 90’s helped organize and equip the Niles (now Barron Lake) Triathlon. He enjoyed traveling through all fifty United States and much of Canada, mostly in his R.V., and wintered in Mission, Texas for many years.
He was preceded in death by his parents, and by a brother, Fred Armitage.
On October 1, 1955 at the former First United Methodist Church of Niles (now Wesley UMC) he married the former Lorraine L. Schadler. Lorraine was a willing and capable partner in all of the Optimist volunteer projects, and perfect traveling companion in the RV. They celebrated last year the remarkable sixty-third anniversary of their wedding.
Surviving family includes his wife, Lorraine Armitage and their children, F. Lynette (& Bruce) Hamby of Sante Fe, New Mexico, Keith (& Carole) Armitage of Salem, South Carolina, and Herbert (& Jeanne) Armitage of Sawyer, Michigan; grandchildren, Jerimiah Hamby, Rebekah (& David) Netter, Trenton Armitage, Stephan Armitage, Ian Armitage, Zac Prehn, and Bree Prehn; great-granddaughter Hannah; and John’s brother, James Armitage of Lafayette, Colorado; and several nieces and nephews including Cheryl Rolston of Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
The memorial service for John Armitage will be at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 18, 2019 at the Wesley United Methodist Church, 302 Cedar Street in Niles with Pastor Robert L. Snodgrass II of the church officiating. The family will receive relatives and friends on Saturday at the church beginning at 10:00 a.m.
The Veteran’s Flag Presentation and “Taps” will be offered by the United States Air Force Honor Guard at the conclusion of the memorial service. Contributions in memory of John Armitage may be made to the Wesley United Methodist Church 302 Cedar Street, Niles, Michigan, 49120. Arrangements were made at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 East Main Street in Niles.