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Former Morning Star publisher dies in Vernon

Peter Armstrong, who ran unsuccessfully for Vernon mayor in 2005, was publisher from 1999-2004
Former Morning Star publisher Peter Armstrong (centre) is joined by press manager Gus Tonnellier (left) and managing editor Glenn Mitchell in checking out an edition of the paper fresh off the presses in 2001. Armstrong died at home in Vernon Dec. 20. (Morning Star - file photo)

Two things the Morning Star’s longest serving employee – and its only current redhead – Barbara Rae remembers about former publisher Peter Armstrong.

One was his mischievous laugh. Which leads us to No. 2.

“He always said he had had a bad relationship with a redhead and was a little afraid of them,” said Rae. “Thus I spent the next 30 years trying to convince him they are not so scary.”

Rae and many former colleagues and friends were saddened to learn of Armstrong’s passing while in his early 80s at his Vernon area home on Dec. 20.

Armstrong arrived in the North Okanagan in the 1970s and was active in sales and marketing, which landed him a position as sales manager at the Morning Star. In 1999, he became the paper’s second publisher, succeeding Don Kendall, a title he held until his retirement in 2004.

Dawn Brule is a former Morning Star sales rep who began in classifieds with the paper and worked with and for Armstrong. She recalled the golf and running enthusiast as being quite humble.

“He was a pretty even guy in all aspects,” said Brule. “Very rarely did I ever see him get upset. He was always helpful and he was a lot of fun. I always felt if I was having a bad day, Peter would know and come talk to me. And every time we ran into each other after we both left the paper, he would stop and talk with me.”

In a 2001 interview for the paper’s anniversary edition, Armstrong said the Morning Star wanted to be committed to the community and remain focused on serving its readers and advertisers.

“I think our success is a reflection of that philosophy,” said Armstrong, who watched employees ring up company, provincial and national writing and sales awards during his tenure as publisher.

In 2005, Armstrong entered the world of municipal politics. He ran for mayor against Wayne Lippert and two others, with Lippert coming out on top by just a few hundred votes over Armstrong.

“Vernon has been good to me so it’s time to give back to the community,” said Armstrong as he announced his candidacy.

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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