Activist for disabled sports

Passing Date: 
Thursday, February 21, 2019

Dollie Cummings Armstrong, a founder of the SkiForAll Foundation and mother of 1984 Olympic GS gold medalist Deb Armstrong, died February 21 at age 84.

Born in Florida, Dollie Cummings grew up in Woodburn, Oregon and graduated from Willamette University in 1957. She married Hugh Armstrong and the couple settled in upstate New York. In 1963, while working on her MS degree in physical education at Syracuse University, she helped develop the physical fitness training program for the first class of America’s Peace Corps volunteers. Dollie taught high school physical education in Syracuse before she and Hugh moved to Stockton, California and then Seattle, Washington. 

Beginning in the early 1970’s Dollie taught skiing at Alpental, where she directed the children’s program and became a PSIA division clinic leader. From 1987, and until her retirement in 2010, Dollie taught skiing for the Breckenridge Ski School in Breckenridge, Colorado and the Snowbird Ski School in Hakuba and Kumanoyu, Japan.  She also sits on the Advisory Board of the Snowbird Ski School based in Hakuba. 

In 1985 Dollie was asked by Governor Booth Gardner to serve on the Washington State Centennial Commission, and was elected president of the Centennial Games, Olympic style winter and summer events to celebrate the state’s centennial in 1989. She won medals in tennis and golf at these games.

In 1986 Dollie was named president of the board of directors of the SKIFORALL Foundation, a fledgling ski instruction program for people with disabilities. Over the next 15 years she built it into one of the largest outdoor recreation programs of its kind in the world.  To complement SKIFORALL’s winter program she helped develop a broad-spectrum summer recreation program with kayaking, hiking, bicycling, and water skiing for people with a variety of physical and mental disabilities. The organization, now called Outdoors for All, serves more than 500 students a year,. 

From 1988 to 1992 Dollie served on the Board of Directors of the Washington State Substance Abuse Coalition.  With daughter Debbie she established the “Debbie Armstrong ‘Say No’ to Drugs and Alcohol Challenge.” 

In 1999, based on her work with SKIFORALL, Dollie was inducted into the National Disabled Ski Hall of Fame in Winter Park, Colorado. Throughout her life Dollie demonstrated a commitment to volunteer service to her community, service she continued through her work as co-founder, Vice President and docent of the Washington State Ski and Snowboard Museum, which opened on the Snoqualmie Pass, Washington in October of 2015.

Dollie is survived by her husband Hugh, children Owen and Debra, and three grandchildren.

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