Carroll Armstrong
(1944 - 2009)

Carroll Armstrong
Nickname: Bookie

MD, United States of America
October 23, 1944

MD, United States of America
December 20, 2009

Jazz, Playing instruments, Travel, Family!
Contributions in Carroll’s name are welcome for the Margaret DeMan Armstrong Award for Excellence for Baltimore School for the Arts graduating seniors. Checks should be made out to Associated Black Charities, 1114 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, with Armstrong Award noted on the memo line.

Or you can send it to the attention of:
Mrs. Barbara Armstrong
32 Roland Green
Baltimore, MD 21210


Carroll (Bookie) Robbins Armstrong was born in Baltimore on October 23, 1944. He was the youngest of three boys born to the late William O. Armstrong II and Margaret DeMan Armstrong. Carroll was baptized and took his first communion at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church. He later attended and was an altar boy at St. Edward’s Catholic Church. Carroll attended both Catholic and Baltimore Public Schools and graduated from Forest Park High School in 1962. He attended Peabody Conservatory, studying trumpet and piano, and was subsequently accepted at The Julliard School of Music.

After going to New York for school, he found his way to the Village and the jazz he had listened to since his early teenage years, starting with the music of his neighbor Gary Bartz. There in New York, he found company playing trumpet and keyboards among many who went on to become jazz legends, such as Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, Jackie McLean, as well as his neighbor Gary. As jazz in that period was starting to head out west, Carroll made a stop in Baltimore to visit his family before taking the westward trek. That side trip to Baltimore turned into a more permanent stay after teaming up with his brother Rocky and the group that he managed, The Softones, with whom his other brother Billy occasionally played congas. Carroll took on the role of head of the horn section, applying his mastery of the trumpet. Traveling south with the group, they opened for musical acts like the Chi-Lites and the Commodores, as well as Curtis Mayfield.

Continuing to put on hold the move out west, Carroll took a position with the Civil Service Commission in Baltimore. In his short tenure there, he developed a counseling service in conjunction with local unions to increase city employee performance by addressing treatable personal problems and illnesses. Occurring concurrently with his time with the Civil Service Commission was the formation of the Baltimore Convention Bureau. The director of the Commission saw something in Carroll that led her to recommend him for one of the sales and marketing positions. Carroll was successful in his interview and, subsequently, in his new role, effectively lured one of the first conventions to the Baltimore Convention Center. This feat was impressive as there was no actual convention center, only a hole in the ground. Carroll applied the skills he had honed as a musician to his position with the Bureau. He saw himself as orchestrating all the elements that enticed a group to hold its meeting in the city.

Carroll went on to have the distinction of being on the opening team of three convention centers: Baltimore, Washington, DC, New Orleans, and the expansion of the San Diego Convention Center. He was most proud of the opportunity to return to Baltimore upon the opening of the expansion of the Baltimore Convention Center. He had gone in a little less than 20 years from the junior man on the team to the head of the newly named Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association. Carroll held progressively more responsible roles as he moved around the country. From his 1978 start in the convention and meetings industry, focusing on convention and visitor bureaus and convention centers, with the original team of the Baltimore Convention Bureau, he went on in 1981 to a national sales position with the Washington, DC, Convention and Visitors Association, and in 1984 to director of sales and marketing for the New Orleans Convention Center. In 1987, he was recruited by the San Diego Convention Center Corporation to lead the marketing department, where he developed its program and increased revenues for the Center. In 1996, he became president and CEO of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, where he envisioned a major hotel connected by a bridge to the Convention Center, and where he worked with a design team to create a visitors’ center in the Inner Harbor that did not obstruct views of the water. Carroll formed CRA Enterprises in 2003 and pursued a variety of consulting contracts around the country. In 2005, Carroll retired from the hospitality industry following a stint with, a meeting planning web portal.

Carroll held leadership roles in many meetings’ industry organizations, including being co-founder and first national president of the Association of Convention Marketing Executives (ACME), chairman of the Awards Committee for the International Association of Exposition Managers (IAEM), USA Ambassador to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), and a member of committees within the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners, Inc., and the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA). He was the recipient of numerous awards and citations from local, national and international organizations. He has been featured in a number of hospitality industry publications as well as in a hospitality text book. Carroll was an outstanding speaker who was often in demand.

His career took him and his wife of 30 years, Barbara, to many cities where they formed many strong personal relationships. As a child growing up in Baltimore, Carroll was known as “Bookie.” He was still called by that nickname by lifelong friends he made in school activities and sports, vacationing at Arundel on the Bay and through membership in Jack and Jill, the Imperials and other more informal groups where the relationships continue to this day. As a teenager, he composed and played music as a member of the Baltimore Jazz Quintet (BJQ). Over the years, he enjoyed participating in jam sessions wherever he went and developed a following of both professional colleagues and personal friends with his trumpet and jazz piano stylings. Carroll’s love of music emanated from his special relationship with his mother, Margaret Armstrong, who is a musical and cultural arts icon in Baltimore city. He also was a Connecting Link and had many enjoyable moments as a member of the Baltimore Mules

Carroll was a devoted family man. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, of almost 30 years, his mother, Margaret, brother Roderick (Gloria) all of Baltimore, MD, special aunt, Frances Ashby, and Cleo Kendall (Ken) of Chicago, sister-in-law Brenda Saddler (David), brothers-in-law Harry (Connie), Benjamin (Donna), and Michael (Sharon) Blount. His brother Bill predeceased him. He is also survived by a host of nephews, nieces, godchildren, as well as a number of cousins.

Carroll died peacefully after a brief illness with his wife at his bedside on December 20, 2009, at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He leaves to mourn his passing: family members and innumerable friends. Carroll lived a full, exuberant life and was loved by many. He heard the final trumpet call and transitioned home to be with the Lord.

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Guest Book (18 entries)

January 10th, 2010
Upon first being introduced to Carroll in the early 80’s by Barbara, I was immediately impressed by the brother. He was immaculately dressed, articulate, down-to-earth, and had a job. With all of that going for him “ I ” determined he was an acceptable choice for my little cousin.
Nephew Mario recalls a favorite statement attributed to his Uncle Carroll: “Do what you say and deliver more than you have promised”… My wife Rosalie and I visited with Carroll and Barbara in San Diego and they gave us an enjoyable tour of the town. He had indeed “delivered more than he had promised”.
Carroll willingly shared his talents with the Blount-Palmer family and anyone else who appreciated musical talent. His piano duets with my nephew Jonathan during my daughter Jennie’s wedding reception was a memorable highlight and a site to behold as the Hotel employees, Hotel guests, and wedding party guests were treated to an impromptu live concert.
This was but one more time “he said he would attend and he indeed delivered more than he had promised”
Eventually, I was introduced to his multi-faceted range of talents, his hi-tech capability for having installed one of the best home movie production centers and surround sound systems that I had witnessed. Listening to music or watching a movie in their home with accompanying sounds was superior to the experience found in a movie theater or a concert stage.

Having known Carroll has been a rewarding experience for us and so we dedicate this Tribute to him for having delivered more than he had promised.

God sees…
God sees when the footsteps falter and the pathway has grown too steep.
God saw the road was getting rough, the hills were hard to climb. He gently closed those loving eyes, that gigantic smile, and whispered “Peace is thine”.
The weary hours, the days of pain, the sleepless nights are passed. The ever present warn-out frame, has found sweet rest at last.

We your first Cousins bid you a smooth journey home to be with our Almighty God. You will be missed by all of us but we now leave you in the hands of God who sees and knows all.

With much love and affection,
Elsie Reba Palmer Davis, Husband Bill & Sons
William Harry Palmer & Family
Dorothy Jones Garrison, Husband Oliver & Family
Jon Marcellus Palmer Jr. Wife Rosalie & Family

Jon Palmer (Cousin)
January 9th, 2010
Carroll, my only brother-in-law, was a very attentive husband. When traveling on business, whether in the country or overseas, he had my sister, Barbara, accompany him as much as her own career would allow. He didn't see traveling as an opportunity to get away from home life.

When they were apart, not a day went by when he did not phone her three or four times. There was always a present for her when he returned. It was not unusual for him at anytime to buy something special for my sister even though it was not her birthday or some other special event. And because of his impeccable taste, the gift was always something beautiful of high quality.

Carroll was generous in giving my sister astute business advice. And he was not adverse to talking things over with her. One day I complimented him on his attention to my sister. He replied, "These are the things a husband does if he wants to stay happily married." I suggested he open a school for potential and current husbands, because so many needed assistance with that aspect of their lives. We had a hearty laugh over that!

Once, when Barbara was out of town, Carroll said to me that he didn't know what he would do without Barbara. I replied that I didn't know what she would do without him. The best gift that Carroll gave Barbara was the gift of sharing his life with hers in what was and is a love supreme.

Brenda Blount Saddler, sister-in-law
Brenda Saddler (sister-in-law)
January 9th, 2010
Jon Marcellus
Jon Palmer (Cousin)
January 9th, 2010

I am so sorry for your loss. I understand the pain as I have just recently lost my husband of 26 years this past July. My prayers are with you. Surround yourself with loving memories and friends and family. They along with God, will be your guide.
Bonnie Randolph-Lee (friend)
January 8th, 2010
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"I was listing to some jazz last night and the horns are always a very clear reminder of you. I know your soul is resting. Rest Easy my friend rest easy!"
Jessica Brown
August 14th, 2014
"We will miss your ideas and exchanges at our meetings. The Mules have lost a beloved member."
Chuck Thomas
January 7th, 2010
"12/30/2009 Dear Barbara, Please accept my condolences on the loss of your dear and beloved Carroll. I have the fondest memories of him and our days at the San Diego Convention Center! He was a great mentor who I learned so much from. He will forever "
Jane Krause
January 1st, 2010
"12/31/2009 To the Family of Mr. Armstrong. Life cannot prepare us for the loss of a loved. But we can find comfort in knowing that God is near to those who mourn. Please find that comfort recorded at Psalms 34:18. Also the promised of possibly seeing"
Marilynn ?
January 1st, 2010
"01/01/2010 Offering prayers for your comfort and gradual healing from your loss. I was inspired by the uplifting Homegoing celebration of Carroll's extraordinary life, as presented by testimonies from many of the lives he touched - both as Carroll a"
Peggy Beecham
January 1st, 2010


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