Former Wauconda school board member remembered for compassion, integrity

  • John Christopher Armstrong

    John Christopher Armstrong

Updated 8/31/2020 6:45 PM

For many years, John Christopher Armstrong's inspirational welcome-back-to-school and graduation speeches in Wauconda Unit District 118 were memorable events.

"I think people actually looked forward to them," said his widow, Anna.


Armstrong served 21 years on the District 118 board, including 16 as board president, before retiring two years ago. He died Aug. 25 at age 69.

He was an educator who taught middle and high school math for 40 years, primarily at Barrington High School, where he also coached football.

"Excellent teacher and coach," said Mike Obsuszt, athletic director at Barrington High School. "I watched him coach our freshman football players for years, and he epitomized what a coach in an education-based athletic program is all about."

Armstrong was known for his humor, patience and compassion.

"His selflessness, wisdom, integrity and passion for supporting (District 118) students, teachers and staff will leave an indelible mark," said a message shared with the District 118 staff on his passing.

"John's profound impact will continue to shape the lives of residents, staff members and the community for years to come."

The longtime Wauconda resident became involved with the district by joining the Wauconda High School boosters.

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Several building projects progressed during his tenure as school board president. They included the opening of Matthews Middle School and the district's transportation center. At the high school, an auditorium and STEM lab were built and a turf field installed.

Armstrong was a great mentor and leader, said school board President Kathy Bianco. She had unsuccessfully applied for a short-term spot on the board, and it was Armstrong who reached out and encouraged her to run for the board in 2015.

"He always comported himself with integrity and set an example of collegiality that allowed the board to do the work in front of us without getting weighed down in controversy," Bianco said.

"He was so pleased with the way they (District 118) were able to expand and grow and still maintain a good financial accountability," Anna Armstrong said. "He felt they (school board) worked so well as a team."


Armstrong was presented the district's annual World of Difference Award in 2019. Past winners have made a contribution over several decades, according to Superintendent Dan Coles.

Besides his wife, Armstrong is survived by two sons and their wives, a granddaughter, and a sister and brother.

Instead of flowers, consider a contribution for a new garden in his honor or donate to the ACLU or Presbyterian Church of Barrington.

A memorial service will be held at a later time. Davenport Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

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