The United States, and indeed the world, has lost one of the great heroes of the last two generations. Carol Held Knight (photos below) survives humanity’s first man to walk on the moon, as do two of his three children and first wife Janet Elizabeth Shearon, known to family and friends as Jan Armstrong. Neil Armstrong’s wife Carol was married to the astronaut for the last eighteen years of his storied life after he divorced his first wife Janet in 1994 after almost 40 years of marriage.
More pictures of the two wives, children and family photos in the gallery.
They say that true heroes are few and fewer to come by these days. That is partly due to our technological society in which we know far more about famous people than we did in the past, making it much harder to hide their skeletons in the closet. We have also become more cynical as a people.
Carol Held Knight’s famous husband was a monumental exception to the weakening esteem we hold our heroes. If you were to name five of the most admired people in the last 50 years, Neil would certainly be on most people’s lists. And if you were to name five of the most famous events in the last fifty years, his first moon walk would be near the top of everyone’s list. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” is one of the few quotes by famous American that every student in our schools still knows today.
But we’ll let others celebrate his historic life as we tell you more about Neil Armstrong’s family, his two wives, and his beloved son Mark.
Janet Armstrong this future man of the stars in 1956 when he was a brash young man just starting on his future space conquest well before JFK announced the famous national challenge that we would put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. After 38 years of life together they divorced in 1994. You can see a picture of Janet below in the gallery. She has been depicted in countless movies as the woman by his side while he prepared for his storied career as a spaceman and future ambassador to science.
But all was not well on the home front in the final years of their marriage. Neil met Carol Held Knight in 1992 while he was still married. Chance brought them together at a breakfast table one day at a golf tournament where he was one of the celebrity participants. Reports are that he called her a couple of weeks later and helped her chop down a cherry tree that very same day. Two years later they were married on June 12th, 1994, just a short time after his divorce was finalized.
With Janet Elizabeth Shearon, he had three children although only two of them survived childhood. Son Alan was born June 30th, 1957 just the year after they were married. Another son Mark Stephen was born on April 8th, 1963. You can see a vintage picture of both boys in the gallery below when they were interviewed with Janet after the successful moon landing.
In between Mark Stephen and Alan Armstrong came Neil’s only daughter. Karen Anne Armstrong was born April 13th, 1959, but she tragically died less than three years later from a reported brain tumor. Even worse she died on their wedding anniversary, January 28th, 1962. That event would have a lasting impact on the family and a source of sorrow as it is when any parents lose a child.
The future Janet Armstrong’s biography tells us that she was born Janet Shearon in Cook County Illinois on March 23rd, 1934. She is 78 years old today, four years younger than her ex-husband. They met at Pursue University where she was majoring in Home Economics, something that women in college were encouraged to do in that day and age. She never did finish her degree. They were married on January 28th, 1956 in the city of Wilmette, Illinois, and shortly after when he was working in California they lived in a modest home in Antelope Valley, which is in Southern California near Los Angeles.
As for Carol Held Knight’s biography, she now resides in Indian Hill, Ohio where the couple spend the last many years of his life. They had no further children together. She was born in 1945 and was a recent widower when she first met Neil. Her previous husband named Ralph Knight was ironically killed in an aviation accident in 1992. The new couple actually married twice because of logistical conflicts, once at a small venue in Ohio where she is from and a few days later again at San Ysidro Ranch in California where they had a larger event. It was there that they built their first home together and lived for several years.
Carol Armstrong is the woman who stole his heart, so our hearts go out to her and his surviving children and first wife. More than that, our hearts go out to America for losing one of our last remaining heroes. Like all of us, Neil Armstrong’s wives, both former and current, and his children should be very proud of his legacy.