Remembering Bob Armstrong

In an industry that relies on complex data, Bob Armstrong packaged technical information with an inventive elegance and a critical eye as the driving force behind the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration’s annual conference for many years and the first editor of the Condenser magazine.

“I worked closely with Bob for many years as the chairman of the IIAR International and Marketing committees and found him to be a tremendous help in all of our work,” said David Rule, IIAR president. “He was a talented and resourceful individual and a great friend.”

Born in Canada, the 6-foot-3 Armstrong combined an out-sized personality with a sense of purpose in his position as vice-president of marketing at IIAR from 1990 to 2012, where his principal responsibilities were in sales and marketing, organizing the annual IIAR conference, producing the Condenser and creating video presentations. He passed away in Calgary, Alberta, on December 7, 2015.

“He could do things with video programs that were just spectacular. He was a lot of fun to work with,” said Bruce Badger, former IIAR president.

“That’s the kind of touch he had,” Badger said. “It was very similar with the conferences. He was able to mix in the technical information in a comfortable environment.

Current Condenser editor Andrea Collins remembers Armstrong as a mentor, eager to pass on a love of all things refrigeration. “Bob was a resource for me, a great boss and a friend,” said Collins.

Badger remembered Armstrong as, “a man with a presence” who loved politics, hockey, wine, cycling and playing the drums. Armstrong worked on a number of election campaigns. He was also known to sit in on drums with bands that performed at IIAR banquets. Early in his career he dabbled in broadcasting and worked as a disc jockey in North Carolina. He provided narration on many of IIAR’s video productions.

Joe Mandato, a member of the IIAR board of trustees and a former IIAR conference chairman, worked closely with Armstrong for many years. “Bob was instrumental in developing the marketing programs for IIAR. He was also very involved in the planning and execution of board meetings at the annual conference and exhibition,” Mandato said. “I was impressed by his attention to detail and his commitment to making the conferences a success.”

Armstrong was also instrumental in creating programs that led to a significant increase in IIAR membership. Among his many contributions was the first IIAR newsletter, NH3 News, the creation of the IIAR web site, the conversion of all historical technical papers to electronic files and the development of the ammonia video training series.