Wesley Curtis “Red” Armstead, whom friends called “Wes”, was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, uncle, friend, and colleague to many. He passed away on April 11, 2023, at the age of 68, in Charleston, WV.
In a 2010 interview with the Charleston Gazette, Wes said this about his journalism career, “One of the best things was talking to people and having people talk to me. On a tragedy scene, people would talk to me. I’ve got a gift of gab. I try to befriend people. I think they realize it is from the heart, that I just want to tell the story.”
West told many stories while mentoring and befriending colleagues throughout West Virginia and Virginia in the news business, and his story was equally remarkable.
Born in 1955, Wes grew up on Charleston’s East End, in a one-bedroom house where his dad eventually added indoor plumbing. One of his first jobs was working for his father laying bricks. “(Dad) paid me like he paid the other guys. I was the only kid in elementary school who had $200 or $300 in his pocket. Anything I wanted, I had to buy myself. He was serious about that, ‘You want it? You earn it.’ I lived by that credo.”
Wes later worked on the local library’s Bookmobile, at Union Carbide as a pipefitter, and then modeled in Columbus, OH, before finding his way back to Charleston and a job as a nighttime custodian at WCHS.
“I took an interest in it. It was a fascinating business. I’ve covered everybody. I covered Johnnie Cochran and Leslie Nielsen … The governors know me by my first name – Bob Wise, Gaston Caperton, Cecil Underwood, Joe Manchin.” Wes liked the familiarity, the challenge, and, of course, talking to people.
He became a talented photojournalist and eventually a news director of WVVA in Bluefield before retiring in October 2022. He was always determined to get the best stories and provide the best content for his viewers and community and the many people whose careers he influenced and encouraged.
Wes also had a passion for music and the arts. He was a member of the Martin Luther King Male Choir and the Charleston Light Opera Guild, where he served as a board member. Wes was a natural performer, and his roles included “The Beeper” on the popular local television show Mr. Cartoon, as well as many church pageants and choir performances.
Wes was also an avid golfer and loved hitting the links with his friends and family. Wes graduated from Charleston High School’s class of 1973 and attended West Virginia State University. He received the 2022 “Kanawha Countian” Award from Kanawha County Commissioners Kent Carper and Ben Salango (2022) for his service to the community. Wes believed in Jesus Christ and served as a deacon for many years at Levi Baptist Church, and later he and Shirley, his wife of 29 years, found a church home at the Princeton Church of God in Princeton, WV.
Above all, Wes was a dedicated family man. He was preceded in death by his wife, Shirley Ann (née Brown), in December 2022 and leaves behind his children, Crystal Good of Charleston and Corey Armstead, and four grandchildren, Myles Satterfield, Tai Kain, Aiden Satterfield, and Azariah Armstead. “Paw Paw” cherished every moment he spent with them.
Wes also leaves behind his beloved brother, Warren (Mary) Armstead of Ironton, OH, and sister-in-law, Gloria Davidson of Columbus, OH, and an abundance of nieces and nephews and many relatives and friends.
Wes will be remembered for his infectious laughter, warm smile, and unwavering dedication to his loved ones and community. He will be deeply missed, but his memory will live on in the hearts and minds of all who knew him.
Funeral service will be held at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Levi First Missionary Baptist Church, 5125 Church Drive, Charleston, WV, with cremation to follow.
Visitation will begin one hour prior at the church.
You may send condolences to friends and family at www.barlowbonsall.com .
Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.