Published on November 2, 2012 by William Nunnelley  
John Lee Armstrong

John Lee Armstrong, who coached and taught at Samford University for 32 years and posted the second highest football winning percentage in school history, died Nov. 1 in Birmingham.  He was 79.

Armstrong played football and baseball at Samford during the early 1950s before earning his degree in 1954.  After coaching in Jefferson County high school ranks, he was named head football coach at Samford in 1966.  He posted a record of 20 wins, nine losses and two ties over three seasons, a winning percentage of .677.

Armstrong returned to high school coaching for several years before rejoining the Samford faculty in 1978 as assistant professor of health, physical education and recreation (later exercise science and sports medicine).  He retired in 2006.

He served as president of the Kenny Morgan Scholarship Foundation Executive Committee, which raises scholarship funds for Samford students.

In addition to his Samford tenure, Armstrong coached and taught at Fairfield, Woodlawn and Erwin high schools in Jefferson County.  He was Jefferson County Coach of the Year in 1976-77.

He is survived by his wife, JoAnn; sons Johnny, Jimmy and Jeff; daughter Joy Barber; nine grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Services for Armstrong will be Saturday, Nov. 3, at 12 noon at Jefferson Memorial Funeral Home in Birmingham.  His family suggests memorial contributions to the John Lee Armstrong Scholarship Foundation at Samford.


About Samford University – Samford University is a premier nationally ranked private university deeply rooted in its Christian mission. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th oldest institution of higher education in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 4th among regional universities in the South. Samford enrolls 5,619 students from 44 states, the District of Columbia and 29 other countries in its 10 academic units: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. Samford also fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.