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.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.