, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

June 12, 2014

Longtime martial arts instructor Les Armentor dies

GROVES — Les Armentor, who guided more than 23,000 students in his 51 years as owner of Armentor’s United Martial Arts in Groves, died Wednesday.

A proud U.S. Marine veteran who served during the Korean Conflict in 1950-1954, Armentor studied martial arts in Korea, Japan, Guam and Okinawa and was one of the Marines who brought the arts to the United States.

Martial arts isn’t just about obtaining a black belt but about character, self-control, discipline and confidence — qualities Armentor worked to instill in his students.

“He taught me much more than martial arts, he taught me life’s lessons and he loved me through it all,” Liz Barbosa, head instructor, said. “He was a father figure.”

Barbosa, who has worked at the studio for 18 years, said her own children called Armentor their “Paw Paw A-I.” A-I is the sound of the karate yell.

Armentor’s widow, Sherry, fondly recalled meeting him.

“Almost 36 years ago I wanted into the martial arts academy not knowing anything about it, to sign up my step-son,” Sherry Armentor said. At that time she had been single for eight years and too busy working and raising a child to even date. “In that first 30 minutes after I met Les I knew I was going to marry him. Six weeks later we were married.”

The couple would have celebrated their 36th anniversary in mid-July.

“All of his life he never compromised his morals,” she said. “His life’s work was to teach “the Way.” He knew what it would do for the mind, body, soul and spirit and offered that to every student he had.”

Sherry Armentor described Les as “so witty, so good natured,” and a person who never had a cross word with others.

“He always said that forgiveness is the basis for a happy life,” she said. “He was my hero and hero to anyone else he met.”

According to Armentor’s Facebook page, the academy will be closed Friday and reopen for normal classes on Monday, June 16.

Survivors include his wife of 35 years, Sherry Armentor of Groves; daughter, Lezlie Armentor and husband Steve Romeo of Port Arthur; sons, Vince Armentor of Groves,  Audy Armentor and wife Jody of Huntsville; four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren (their Paw Paw A-I).

He was preceded in death by his son, Clint Armentor, sister, Joyce Cheshier and brother, Wayne Armentor.

He is also survived by his beloved instructors that will carry on the legacy of “The Way”, Liz East Barbosa, Will Fecowycz, Trent Gladden and Steve Freeman; and his faithful four legged Lil Girl.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m., Saturday, June 14 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Groves. Burial will follow at Greenlawn Memorial Park.

A visitation for family and friends will be held on Friday evening from 5 to 8 p.m. with a Rosary to be recited at 6 p.m. at Levingston Funeral Home in Groves.

Friends wishing to make memorial contributions may send them to: Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675.


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