Westmont Magazine Unassuming Stewards
Although they helped build a family business into a successful, worldwide concern, Everett and Eleanor Armington changed little over the years. They continued to play golf at public courses, preferred simple, small restaurants, and never dressed ostentatiously.
As Westmont President Emeritus Roger Voskuyl recalls, the Armingtons were “active in church work, took an interest in people who were needy, and did things for them all in a very unassuming way.” Their son David noted in a “letter” to his mother written after her death in 1983, “In quiet and steady ways, you and father were always looking out for someone else, doing little things, and sometimes big things, to help make their lives happier.”
One of five brothers who founded and built Euclid Road Machinery Company, Everett served as the sales manager. In 1933, the Cleveland, Ohio, firm introduced the first large capacity, self-powered hauling trucks for off-highway construction, and Euclid’s equipment became the industry standard. General Motors bought them out in 1953.
Everett then retired, and the couple moved to a ranch in Summerland. They sang in the choir at Carpinteria Community Church, where they befriended Rosella Wilson, a Westmont staff member. Everett met President Voskuyl through the Montecito Rotary Club.
When the Armingtons’ car broke down one day on Coast Village Road, a Westmont basketball player stopped and fixed it for them. They accepted his invitation to watch a game and soon became avid fans of the basketball, baseball, and soccer teams. Eleanor attended games even after her husband died in 1978.
The tragic death of President Voskuyl’s daughter Nancy brought the Armingtons closer to Westmont. The parents of four children, they lost each of their two daughters, Shirley and Lois, at a young age. President Emeritus Voskuyl notes that their first gift arrived five days after the 1959 car accident that took Nancy’s life. “It may have been that our sorrow reminded them of their sorrow,” he reflects.
Always practical, the Armingtons gave $30,000 to Westmont for a sewer line that solved a serious sewage problem. When their son, Paul, recommended against supporting the general fund because unrestricted gifts might be used to fix plumbing, Eleanor replied, “If their plumbing needs fixing, I don’t mind helping to fix it.”
Paul recalls that his mother “placed great emphasis on ‘good stewardship’ of her possessions and of her environment . . . Mom always related to her possessions more as a caretaker than as an owner.”
Two facilities at Westmont stand as testimonies to the Armingtons’ stewardship and generosity. They made a major gift for the library, originally meant to bear their name. But when students lined up to move books into the new building in 1968, the Armingtons announced they wanted to name it for President Voskuyl, whose birthday was that day.
They then gave the first million-dollar gift to Westmont for Armington Halls. They also donated their ranch to the college in exchange for lifetime annuities. Each of them had a trust and made a provision for Westmont’s endowment through their estates.
The Armingtons were loyal, faithful supporters of Westmont, which they grew to love. “I know that the activities of the college enriched their lives,” says President Emeritus Voskuyl, “and what they were able to do for Westmont and see with their own eyes was a blessing to them, as well as to us.”