Rodger Armstrong, March 29, 1938 - June 2, 2021

March 29, 1938 – June 2, 2021

“30 years ago I took a beginner retrieving class and consequently Roger and Sue are the reason I play this fun retriever game. They have both been so generous over the years with their time, expertise and property. Rodger’s booming laugh was so distinctive, fun and infectious. I remember him with several of his goldens, but Zoom particularly sticks out with her enthusiastic heeling/bouncing at Rodgers head level. I also remember Rodger announcing classes at an independent PVGRC specialty and when calling dogs to the ring for BOB, he announced over the PA system… “dogs to the ring please for Best of Breeding…” everyone cracked up! While I didn’t see Rodger very often, I will always think of him fondly.”

Judy Gladson

“Rodger and Sue helped introduce a generation of dog owners to field training, regardless of breed or level of experience. Many of us in the CRFCRC got our start that way — we thank Rodger for his never ending generosity! As a club, CRFCRC has benefited tremendously from the high standards set for field events, something Rodger was instrumental in building in PVGRC and was so kind to share with us. We are all deeply saddened by his passing and so grateful for all he did for us, both individually and as a club.”

Capital Region Flat-Coated Retriever Club

“I didn’t know him well. I did have the pleasure of working at a test that he and Sue judged back in 2018. They were a great team and so funny together! They kept everyone in great spirits all day! Just a delightful man.”

Nancy Hoffman

“Rodger truly loved life. He was so integral to the PVGRC that I think his temperament was actually embedded into the club, so that the club gestalt was one that mirrored his love of life with dogs. When I think of Rodger, I can hear his laugh first. He could see the humor in just about every possible situation. If something bad happened, he could always find some humor in it. If something funny happened, he could tell the story in such a way that he made it maximally funny. What a gift he was to everyone around him.”

Chris Zink

“I met Rodger in the early 1990s when he was teaching a beginner field class. Rodger was an excellent instructor and easily shared his vast knowledge of training Golden Retrievers for field work.

Fewer people may know that Rodger was also an excellent tracking instructor. I give Rodger all the credit for making me a better tracking handler and the tracking titles I earned with our Goldens. Rodger once told me there are two things you must remember when tracking. First, you don’t know where the track goes; that is why you have trained your dog to track. Second, when in doubt, trust your dog.

Potomac Valley Golden Retriever Club has suffered a great loss. My deepest condolences to Sue Armstrong and her family. Rodger was a great man and a great friend. I will miss my friend.”

Nick DeCesare

“I’ll not forget the day Dennis and I met Rodger and Sue. It was a PVGRC Veteran’s Day in ’91 or ’92 where folks were to dress up along with their dogs. I had a pretty cool wolf mask from Halloween so I dressed as a wolf, our dog Megan was Little Red Riding Hood, and Dennis was Grandma. It was a beautiful day and I remember being mesmerized by the beauty of Twin Ponds.

As most members know, Rodger was a mega force for PVGRC. A kind, hugely generous, and hard working person. One of the hardest working people I have ever known. If there was a job to get done Rodger was there to do it. I don’t even know how many tasks he did for the club, but I do know for decades he hauled, stored, fitted, and maintained not one, but Two club trailers. Plus supplied and maintained all of the club’s field equipment. In addition spending his winter months making the wonderful wood duck decoys for our annual specialty trophies. He taught many many people how to track dogs through his club classes, of which I was one, and am so in debt for that instruction and the joy it brought to me and my dogs. He helped Sue with the field classes which not only introduced newbies to the venue, also helping all of us who needed more experience for both dogs and people. One year I asked him if he could show me how to clean a gun. He gave me an hour private lesson.

Rodger not only built Twin Ponds, he and Sue maintained it for all of us to enjoy. That is a LOT of work as anyone knows who has maintained acreage. Yes we enjoyed it and Rodger put up with us throwing our bumpers up in the trees (mine stayed there for years) and some of us would forget to turn the boat up, which was always “fun” to deal with after a rain.

I remember Rodger and I shared a sweet tooth. He always thanked me if I brought the donuts for early morning snacking at the hunt tests, as well as any big brownies in the hunt test lunches.

Miss you Rodger.”

Leslie Peszczynski

“Years ago I was in a field group with Rodger. One place we went to had a deep stream that had to be crossed to throw a mark. I didn’t have boots but Rodger did. He took me for a piggy back ride across with a bag of bumpers then came over and got me when it was time to be replaced. That was Rodger, laughing all the way. His laughter lit up a room. He was always willing to answer questions with one of his well known long discussions. What a wonderful, thoughtful and sweet man. He will be missed terribly and we all loved him.”

Sharon DeCesare

“We will miss you so much! I remember:

  • my first gun safety lesson sitting at the picnic table with Rodger.
  • seeing a bit of joy on Rodger’s face as he used his new tractor to pull several minivans (including mine!) out of the yard after a particularly rainy wc/wcx test at Twin Ponds.
  • asking Rodger if 30 mph winds would be a problem for the gunners at our hunt test (always during hurricane season). He said nah! (Maybe it was 20 mph…maybe it was 40 mph…it didn’t bother Rodger.)
  • Rodger dragging a mesh bag full of hot dog pieces across the field to help my dog (and me) get started with tracking.
  • Rodger throwing the babydoll for “Save the Baby!” – a classic picnic game.
  • Rodger throwing birds – from an island, from a boat, from the dam, for countless dogs.

Thank you so much Rodger. I know you’ve already got the training group organized in heaven. Dog to the line. With love.”

Sharon Albright

“In about 1992 or so, my first Golden, Westy (West Court’s Brigadier) and I were taking a retrieving class at the Armstrongs. Rodger was teaching some of the fundamentals of handling. As was typical, and funny, the “lecture” part of the instruction was very, very long. Then, one at a time, we were to send our dogs out for a retrieve and stop them halfway on a “sit” whistle. Because we were all “newbies,” Rodger let us also yell “SIT” immediately after blowing the whistle, to reinforce the command

When my turn came, I sent Westy for the bumper, and halfway, blew the whistle and yelled “SIT!!”. Westy stopped, looked like he was about to sit, and instead, took a big dump. In his clever, deadpan, and hilarious way, Rodger immediately said, “He thinks you said “shit.” A true LOL moment.

Rodger was one of a kind! With good memories, but sad.”

Marie Acton

“All three of my Standard Poodles, Ghillie, Arco and Chase, participated in PVGRC’s Beginner Hunt Training classes held at the Armstrong’s beautiful property. It was at those training sessions that I became acquainted with Rodger. Both Rodger and Sue were always most gracious and helpful as we progressed through the intricate steps of training. It was a pleasure to enjoy their property that together they maintained so nicely and invited us to use. These times were invaluable to the development of our foundation work for Hunt tests.

Gratefully in memoriam.”

Jean Bedenbaugh

“Three stories:

My first Golden, Buc, loved Rodger, cause Rodger helped train him to get ducks. Even at a test, if Rodger was in the field, Buc had to tuck into that blind to show Rodger his bird on his return. Buc had good taste in humans.

Rodger loved to teach and lecture on all aspects of field work for retrievers – even while doing mock trials for WC/X. I once stood in the holding blind for 45 minutes while Rodger explained all sorts of things to the person on the line. He was thorough and complete… and we all loved him for his sharing of his knowledge.

In January 2014 I had a litter of 6 week old pups in my new Toyota RAV, and was at Milly and Charlie’s place to let them have a pup adventure. Rodger was there training. He wanted to see the pups – who were still in the car. He kept kicking my bumper (Ford Escape has just come out w/ the kick the bumper to open the back hatch feature). ‘Rodger, why are you kicking the bumper?’ ‘I want to see the puppies.’ He laughed pretty hard when he realized that kicking the bumper wasn’t going to get the desired end, as I opened the hatch for him.

There are loads more stories – like ones when PVGRC came to help out in digging out the pond – and Rodger hauling my stuck in the snow van up his driveway — and so many more.”

d’Alex Childers

“The many times he helped us learn how to train our dogs in field, being patient & giving us great advice! We send our deepest sympathy to Sue & the family… he was a special person.”

Jody & John Culver

“A cute Rodger story. We went to an event at their place, veterans or something, and Caitlin was about 5. She latched on to Rodger and he took her around on the 4 wheeler, she “helped” him carry things. They spent the day together. Everywhere he went she was right behind him. It was so cute. She talked about her friend, Rodger, for weeks. Caitlin is 30 now.”

Cathy Story

Janice Benge’s Presentation of the 2005 Hap Arnold Award to Rodger

The Hap Arnold Good Sportsmanship Award recognizes a member who has contributed unselfishly to the Potomac Valley Golden Retriever Club and to the advancement of the sport of dogs, without regard to personal honor. For those of you who did not have the pleasure of knowing him, a little about Hap Arnold:

Hobart Sloan Arnold, Hap, was among the founders of PVGRC and a Lifetime Member of the Club. He passed away in August 1994. Hap finished his first Golden champion, Rebel, almost 50 years ago. Over the years, Hap served as Club President, Specialty Secretary, and Specialty Show Announcer. He gave his service as Conformation Ring Steward countless times, and was the official Statistician for the GRCA for over 20 years. Just months before his death, and in failing health, Hap stepped forward to serve as Chief Conformation Steward for the 1994 Eastern Regional Specialty, when no one else would. A teacher of those new to the game, a trusted friend of old-timers, and a man dedicated to the Golden Retriever and the sport of dogs, we are proud to honor his memory.

This year’s recipient of the Hap Arnold Good Sportsmanship award possesses the same qualities as Hap – past President, a teacher, a trusted friend and one dedicated to the Golden Retriever and the sport of dogs. It is impossible to list everything this person has done for PVGRC without spoiling our surprise. But I will tell you this. Every single one of you knows this person. This member is someone we all look up to. This club member’s name is synonymous with PVGRC. There is not anything this person has not done for PVGRC. For as long as I can remember, this member, year after year, has been an integral part of each and every one of our club’s activities — our banquets, our Spring Specialties, WC/WCX tests, our agility trials, our Veterans Days, our annual Olympics, our fall matches, our Hunt Tests, and our tracking tests. This member did everything at our National including the most un-glamorous jobs like picking up trash bags from every trash can on the show site, hauling hoses to get water to the RVs, laying floor tile, and generator tweaking — all the things that made our National run so smoothly and efficiently.

While our committee believed that every member of PVGRC should be recognized for all of their hard work last year, we also felt that this year’s recipient truly deserved to be singled out to receive the Hap Arnold award because he has given so much to this club over the years and asked for nothing in return except maybe a smile and a thank you.