Behind the Uniform: Lisa Armstrong

Nigel Jaffe

Before she came to the College 28 years ago, Lisa Armstrong worked in the Berkshires as a licensed nurse. NIGEL JAFFE/FEATURES EDITOR

Universally loved for her warm presence and friendly, upbeat attitude even on the bleakest of Monday mornings, Lisa Armstrong is a key part of the dining experience at Driscoll. 

Since arriving at the College 28 years ago, she has held roles at Mission Park, Greylock (decommissioned in 2010) and, for the past 12 years, Driscoll.

“I’ve always loved working here,” she said. “There’s a great camaraderie between the students and the staff. I love the people here, and I look forward to meeting all the new students each year, I really do.”

Though she said she has thoroughly enjoyed her time in dining services, Armstrong once pursued a very different career, working for several years in local nursing homes. Her first job, which she took while still in high school, was at the Williamstown Commons Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. “I was 15, so I was kind of afraid at first to work with elderly people,” she said. “But talking to the people there, I found that the stories you hear are really amazing.” 

After graduation, Armstrong moved to Bennington and starting working full-time at Sweet Brook Rehabilitation & Nursing Center. “I became a licensed CNA [Certified Nursing Assistant], and I loved my job. I made a lot of good friends there. Then, after I had my daughter, I left the nursing home, and when she was a year old, found a part-time job here.”

Armstrong made another major life change around that time: She quit smoking. “My doctor told me I would go to my daughter’s high school graduation with an oxygen tank, so I quit a two-pack-a-day habit and started on the treadmill,” she said. “Then I really got into running about two years later, and I’ve been at it for 18 years since.” 

Her daughter is now studying at McCann Technical School to become a licensed practical nurse, following in the footsteps of her grandmothers on both sides, who were nurses as well. 

“Before her grandmother passed away, my daughter promised her she would become a nurse,” Armstrong said. “When my mother was in the nursing home at Williamstown Commons, she signed a paper that said my daughter could take care of her at night. My mom used to do the cutest thing back then: When my daughter was working late at night, my mother would put her call light on right before the shift ended. My daughter would ask what she needed, and she’d say, ‘Just a hug and a kiss goodnight.’ It was the sweetest thing.”

As the eldest of six siblings, Armstrong has recently taken on a new role within her family. “Now that my mom and dad are gone, my family calls me the matriarch,” she said. “I have three brothers and two sisters, and we’re pretty close-knit. Lots of great nieces and nephews.”

All of her siblings reunited in North Adams in 2016 when the baseball field at the Daniel Alcombright Athletic Complex, just a few blocks from Stop & Shop, was renamed the Richard “Dick” Lefebvre Field in honor of their father. 

“My dad was always coaching, umpiring, doing all sorts of things with baseball,” Armstrong said. “He just absolutely loved the Red Sox. We lived on the same street where the baseball field was, so he would always bring his lawn chair down and watch the games. At night, when the lights would come out, he’d turn to one of us, and go, ‘Just like Fenway. Just like Fenway.’” 

Armstrong said the city council unanimously agreed to rename the field once her brother, Jon Lefebvre, proposed the idea to the mayor of North Adams. “Jon got to throw out the first pitch when they dedicated the field,” Armstrong said. “My mom knew about it before she passed away. She would show a picture of the sign to everybody that visited her in the nursing home.”

Armstrong said she hopes to continue working at Driscoll for a long time. “I’d have to be dragged out of here kicking and screaming,” she said. “I have a great relationship with my coworkers, the coaches and the students. They all say hi to me, even on the street, when I’m out running. Like I said, I love where I am.”