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Richard Ley Armstrong
October 10, 1941 ~ August 3, 2023 (age 81) 81 Years Old
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Richard Armstrong, a loved and respected scientist, athlete, father, and grandfather, died on August 3, 2023, at the age of 81 in Boulder, Colorado, of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Born on October 10, 1941, in Casper, Wyoming, to Richard Lyman and Marjorie Ley Armstrong, Richard is survived by his wife, Betsy; his daughter, Johanna (Ladis); son-in-law, Manny; granddaughters Margo and Sadie, and his sister Elisabeth McDaniel, of Nebraska.
Born and raised in Casper, Wyoming, Richard was a four-event skier (slalom, giant slalom, jumping and cross country), won a state high school championship and competed in Junior Nationals in the late 1950s.
Richard earned three degrees, all from the University of Colorado at Boulder, including a Ph.D. in Geography.
In 1972, Richard became director of the CU- INSTAAR San Juan Avalanche Project in Silverton, Colorado, was a researcher-forecaster for the Colorado Avalanche Center, USFS in Ft. Collins, and then to CU National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC/CIRES), from where he retired. Richard focused his passion for snow into extensive research on remote sensing of the cryosphere. One of his favorite projects was the CHARIS project (Contribution of High Asia Runoff from Ice and Snow) that examined glacier and snow melt in the Himalaya-Hindu-Kush, Pamir and Tien Shan ranges (the Third Pole), which provides water to more than one billion people. Through this project and many others, Richard developed lifelong friendships with many who shared his love of travel and of the mountains.
Skiing remained an important part of his life, and he competed in classic cross-country and skate events until recently. He was also an accomplished road and mountain biker, still touring the mountain passes of Colorado and Europe into his eighties. Richard and Betsy purchased their Fraser, CO home in 1999 and enjoyed their part-time residency, skiing, hiking and mountain biking.
As a young adult, Richard lived overseas and developed a deep appreciation for British racing cars, his first was a Lotus Elan, which he raced for a few years. His favorite car was the Austin Healey and he was active in the Rocky Mountain Austin Healey Club, attending British car shows in Denver and taking his Austin Healey 100-6 out for neighborhood drives.
Giving back to the community was important and he volunteered his time with multiple local nonprofits including youth GED tutoring with the Justice System Volunteer Program and as a learning partner with the I Have a Dream Foundation of Boulder County.
Richard was well known for his kind and gentle nature, and his constant willingness to mentor, all of which he maintained with grace as he endured the cruel effects of ALS.