It is with great sadness that we share the news that on June 21, 2018, at the age of 84, Janet Shearon Armstrong lost her fierce-hearted battle with lung cancer. She was a loving mother, grandmother, great grandmother, friend, and a wife of test pilot and astronaut Neil Armstrong.
Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was an American astronaut and aeronautical engineer, and the first person to walk on the Moon. He was also a naval aviator, test pilot, and university professor.
Armstrong was born and raised in Wapakoneta, Ohio. A graduate of Purdue University, he studied aeronautical engineering; his college tuition was paid for by the U.S. Navy under the Holloway Plan. He became a midshipman in 1949 and a naval aviator the following year. He saw action in the Korean War, flying the Grumman F9F Panther from the aircraft carrier USS Essex.
In September 1951, while making a low bombing run, Armstrong’s aircraft was damaged when it collided with an anti-aircraft cable, strung across a valley, which cut off a large portion of one wing. Armstrong was forced to bail out. After the war, he completed his bachelor’s degree at Purdue and became a test pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) High-Speed Flight Station at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
He was the project pilot on Century Series fighters and flew the North American X-15 seven times. He was also a participant in the U.S. Air Force’s Man in Space Soonest and X-20 Dyna-Soar human spaceflight programs.
Welcomed Three Kids Together
After tying the knot in 1956, Janet and Neil welcomed three kids together. The former couple welcomed their first child, Eric Armstrong, in 1957. Similarly, two years later, in 1959, Neil Armstrong’s ex-wife gave birth to their daughter, Karen Armstrong.
Janet Elizabeth Shearon was born in Wilmette, Illinois, the youngest of three daughters of Dr. Clarence and Louise Shearon. A graduate of New Trier High School, she then attended Purdue University in the School of Home Economics and was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. In 1956, Jan and Neil married and eventually settled in the San Gabriel Mountains on the outskirts of Lancaster, California.
From their home in Juniper Hills, Jan could see her husband flying experimental aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base in the distance. Together, Jan and Neil would move to Houston, Texas for the NASA space program, and afterwards to Lebanon, Ohio. After 38 years of marriage, Jan and Neil divorced and she became a resident of Utah, spending time in Deer Valley as well as St. George.
Everywhere she went, she forged lifelong friendships and frequently attended reunions for not only her high school graduating class, but her kindergarten class as well. In 1964, Jan was the founder and coach of the El Lago Aquanauts synchronized swimming team and remained a supporter and advocate throughout her lifetime. Additionally, she was a founding member of the KIT (Keep-In-Touch) group of astronaut wives that have remained close, to this day.
She is survived by two sons Rick and Mark, daughter-in-law Wendy; and also by 6 grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren who knew her simply as “Cee Cee”. Jan’s second child and only daughter, Karen Anne “Muffie” Armstrong, died from a brain tumor at the age of 2 years, 9 months.
Janet received many awards and honors worldwide as a result of her courage and dedication during the American space program of the 1960s. By all that knew her, she will be remembered as a strong, willful woman that always reunited with a warm smile and parted ways with tears. We ask only that you honor her by standing up for that in which you believe.
Janet Shearon Armstrong didn’t live to see the film of her life (or at least a crucial portion of it) in theaters. She died on June 21, 2018 at the age of 84, according to her obituary. What was her cause of death? Janet died after a “fierce-hearted” battle with lung cancer, the obit reveals.
“She was a loving mother, grandmother, great grandmother, friend, and a wife of test pilot and astronaut Neil Armstrong,” says the obit.
The obituary, which ran in the Houston Chronicle and on Legacy.com, reveals that Janet was born Janet Elizabeth Shearon in Wilmette, Illinois, “the youngest of three daughters of Dr. Clarence and Louise Shearon. A graduate of New Trier High School, she then attended Purdue University in the School of Home Economics and was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority.”
Janet, called Jan, married Neil Armstrong in 1956. They lived in the San Gabriel Mountains near Lancaster, California at first. “From their home in Juniper Hills, Jan could see her husband flying experimental aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base in the distance,” the obit says.
As the movie shows, the Armstrongs moved to Houston, Texas to be closer to NASA and later settled in Lebanon, Ohio.
The movie hints at growing tensions in the marriage, caused by the stresses of the job and Neil’s withholding of emotions. In real life, Neil Armstrong and Janet divorced after they were married for 38 years. Josh Singer, who wrote the screenplay for First Man, told Vanity Fair that Armstrong responded to trauma by holding back his feelings.
“It was hard on his family,” said Singer. “Rick (the couple’s son) would say that oftentimes you’d ask him questions, and he just wouldn’t answer. Janet would say a ‘no’ was a long argument from him. ‘No’ was a forceful, long answer. As Jim describes him, he was incredibly tightly packaged emotionally.”
Neil Armstrong Married a Second Time
Neil Armstrong died in 2012 after complications from heart surgery. However, after his divorce from Janet, the famously private Armstrong married a second time.
According to Daily Beast, Armstrong’s second wife was Carol Knight, whom he married in 1999, five years after his divorce from Janet. He and Janet “remained cordial,” Daily Beast reported.
Carol and Neil married in Indian Hill, Ohio. She was 15 years younger than him and was a widow, Telegraph reports.
He feels guilty
Many news stories have reported on the astronaut’s penchant for privacy in later years. A national celebrity, he did not act like one, rarely giving interviews and staying out of the limelight. His first wife Janet once said, in his biography, “He feels guilty that he got all the acclaim for an effort of tens of thousands of people.”
According to Neil’s official biography titled First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen, the couple grew apart in their marriage. The book revealed that Neil, so focused on his mission, became emotionally unavailable for his family while Janet had to carry the burden of caring for the kids on her own.
According to the UK Telegraph, Neil sunk into depression after his divorce but regained his happiness when he met Carol Knight, the woman who would later become his second wife.
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Janet’s later life
Neil got married to Carol and the two stayed together until his death in 2012. Jane, on the other hand, moved to Utah where she started a new life after the divorce.
At the age of 84, Janet passed away from lung cancer in 2018.
Neil Armstrong and his first wife Janet sure had some tough times in their marriage so they must have known that the best thing for everyone involved was to end it. And as for the first man to walk on the moon, he certainly left quite the impact on the world and his name will never be forgotten.
Janet was never a stranger to flights — her father owned and flew his own airplane — but even at that early age she remained firmly grounded. In James Hansen’s definitive Armstrong biography First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, which the film was based on, Janet is quoted as saying, “I’ve never learned to fly a plane, though I’ve always wanted to…My mother and oldest sister actually flew, but I never did because I was always too young.” She expressed interest in getting a pilot’s license as late as 1969, the very year of her husband’s first moon landing, but never got one.
She was a founding member of the KIT (Keep-In-Touch) group of astronauts’ wives, who in 2009 allowed the BBC to film their annual reunion, per The New York Post. But she told Life magazine in 1969 (per The Daily Beast) that she didn’t define herself or her marriage by NASA’s terminology.” I’m not married to ‘an astronaut, I’m married to Neil Armstrong. I knew he wanted to go to the moon, somehow, some way, when I married him. Knowing this hasn’t changed my life. To me he will always be Neil Armstrong, husband, father of two boys,” she said.
Here are the true details about what happened to Janet, Neil Armstrong’s first wife:
1. She was a source of stability for Armstrong and the family.
2. Janet and Neil met in college at Purdue University.
3. They endured unimaginable tragedy together.
4. The couple led a modest life after the moon mission.
5. They split in 1994.
6. Janet passed away earlier this year.
Thank you for staying with this post “janet shearon armstrong death” until the end.