Optometrist Jesse Davis Armistead, who fitted Buddy Holly with famed spectacles, dies
When Dr. Van Moore visited his former optometry partner Dr. Jesse Davis Armistead on Thursday, something felt off.
“He said, ‘I don’t think I’m going to make it. I’m not going to kick it this time,’ ” Moore said. “It was unusual because he had never been like that before.”
Armistead of Lubbock died Saturday at the age of 98. He had been in hospice care since November, when he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. A service will be at 1:30 p.m. Monday at First United Methodist Church in Lubbock.
Armistead is known for fitting Lubbock rock ’n’ roll icon Buddy Holly in his famed thick, black-framed glasses.
The influential artist remained Armistead’s patient up until the time of the rock star’s tragic death in an Iowa plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959.
But more than giving the rocker his famous look, Moore said his longtime business partner and friend was a leader.
“He has affected every optometrist that he has come in contact with,” said Moore, who worked with Armistead for 41 years. “He was one of the nicest, thoughtful, caring (people) and always interested in others; never thought of himself.”
Armistead was married to Cora Armistead for 72 years.
The couple’s daughter, Ann Thompson of Lubbock, said despite his illness, her dad was active in the South Plains Food Bank until last week.
He was also recently recognized with a Silver Star and two Bronze Medals for his service in the U.S. Army Corps during World War II.
Thompson’s fondest memory of her father was when he would wake her up early in the morning as a child, cheerfully saying, “I’m happy and enthusiastic. Are you?”
“That’s how we would begin every morning,” Thompson said. “That is how he taught us to live.”
Thompson said her dad was always there for her when she had tough questions or needed guidance. Although he’s no longer here, Thompson said his legacy lives.
She said he taught her “to remember to always be optimistic, to always be a part of God’s family and to participate fully with that.”
Moore said he’ll miss his longtime friend and former colleague.
“I just can’t tell you what a fine person he was,” Moore said. “He just had a way of making people feel comfortable and trying to do what was best for them. (He) never thought about himself.”
Follow Sarah on Twitter