Minneapolis lost a powerhouse on Tuesday, May 28, 2024 when Carol Ann Armstrong Pass, 81, of Minneapolis, MN, died at 3 a.m. – fittingly the time of night she usually stopped studying or working on community projects.

Carol was born to Robert and Jeanne (Thurber) Armstrong on Aug. 30, 1942 in Minneapolis, and graduated from Mound High School. Raised on a farm along Lake Minnetonka, she carried a love of horses and animals into her adulthood, and believed knowing and caring for God’s creation brings you closer to God. One of the first additions to her family happened when she saw a stray dog being abused; she took him first to the veterinarian and then home. Charlie was the first of what was usually three dogs that she referred to as her “thundering herd.”

Carol married Brad Pass on Dec. 18, 1971, and dedicated herself to raising their two sons. They traveled and went on adventures, read books and poetry, and listened to music. Being married to a pilot meant that Carol operated independently much of the time and then demonstrated her flexibility to pivot to family life when her husband was home. She could be both very independent and part of a team, depending on what was needed. She embraced a sense of wonder and curiosity. They spent hours creating a mountain play table out of paper mache with jewel-topped hills, lakes and hidden caverns, and she introduced her sons, nephews and nieces to “The Hobbit.” She created a little cupboard library under the stairs, and filled the house with books. She always found ways to challenge her boys’ creativity and thinking no matter where she had to be, including when she was working and Brad was flying. Carol took the boys with her to work sometimes and found things for them to do, like games, books, and art projects – or she gave them a handful of quarters to play video games. She was fiercely protective of her family.

The Armstrong clan motto is "Invictus maneo,” which translates to "I remain unvanquished,” and in that sense, Carol was a true Armstrong in everything she did, facing it head on and coming out untouched. She has quite literally remained unvanquished in any task she set her mind to.

She attended the University of Minnesota and Bethel College. Her master’s dissertation was on Martin Heidegger, a German philosopher best known for contributions to phenomenology, hermeneutics, and existentialism. She taught philosophy at the University of Minnesota, Bethel College, and Augsburg College, and challenged her students to ponder difficult questions. Guests to their home stayed up late engaged in deep conversation about Russian novelists Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy. She helped her children write poetry and stories, and edited their college papers. They made space for two teens that she treated like sons, Becelone and Leroy.

A free thinker and feminist, in her early years Carol spent summers working at Glacier National Park, rode a little yellow Honda motorcycle, and played the guitar. She went camping and (naked) canoeing in the Boundary Waters like all good hippies, and once got herself and friends trapped in a shack after being chased by a grizzly bear. They called her ‘bean’ (as in using your bean) because she came up with all the good (sometimes dangerous) ideas of what to do. She tamed a wild horse. She painted, did silk-screening, woodcarving and charcoal drawing. She sewed a doll for her little sister and dresses for prom, and told her sons to pick space aliens from the book, Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials, and then replicated them as stuffed animals. She sewed her own bellbottoms and other items of clothing for the Great Northwest Gentleman's Apparel and Antique Company store she and Brad owned in Dinkytown. She loved the woods and the lagoon, and filled up the back of the truck with lilies, hostas and roses to plant all over the Phillips neighborhood.

She said that she “loved the fellowship of those who stay up late at night exploring the deep meanings of life in the wee hours of the morning.” She would say this imagined fellowship was always aware of the important thinking their fellows were doing, and would know one another by the tiny office windows across the world still lit long into the night. Then she sat in her study at the front of the house on 18th Avenue South with her stacks of books and her Macintosh SE, exploring the deep meanings of life. “Nighttime is when the philosophers and intellectuals are awake,” she told people. Her faith informed her ethics and her actions. As a philosopher, Carol believed that the existential questions need to be answered and through understanding the nature of the universe you are making a difference in the world. Hers was an active religion and a tool.

Moving through the world with a sense of purpose, Carol was a tireless advocate for her community. She served as president of the neighborhood organization, East Phillips Improvement Coalition, for 20 years, and most recently she helped found and was on the board of the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute. She raised the funds to build the East Phillips Cultural and Community Center, and for numerous housing initiatives in East Phillips, striving to bring happiness, resources, and attention to the community. She was proud of having worked to stop many environmental injustices, like the garbage burner and the Hiawatha Public Works Expansion Project, and birthing the East Phillips Indoor Urban Farm project at the former Roof Depot. She and Brad also owned houses on their own to create quality affordable housing.

When she became afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease towards the end of her life, Carol maintained her sense of humor and drive, attending Zoom meetings from her home and using her connections to encourage people to do what was right. Carol inspired all who knew her.

Survived by: husband Bradley Pass; siblings John Armstrong and Patricia Armstrong; children Gabriel (Amy) Pass, Daniel (Laurel) Pass; and grandchildren Francisca (Ulises), Aurora, Rosslyn, Moira, and Ailsa.

Preceded by her parents, brother Richard Armstrong and sister Judith (Armstrong) Bramsen.

A celebration of life will be held on Sunday, June 9, 1pm, at the East Phillips Cultural and Community Center. Arrangements by the Cremation Society of Minnesota. Private family interment at Fairview Cemetery in Mound. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute.