Richard E. West, 76, Had Long Marketing Career

Richard E. West of Edgartown and Lynchburg, Va., died quietly on May 7, 2003.

Born in Edgartown on Jan. 10, 1927, to Richard and Ann West, Dick (as both he and his dad were called) grew up in Edgartown where he attended the Edgartown School from first through 12th grades, graduating in 1944.

The industrious and hard-working youngster held many jobs during his school years which included delivering newspapers and clerking at Pete's drugstore and Connor's Market. Most notably, he worked at the Vineyard Gazette where he was mentored by owner/editor Henry Hough to continue his education.

Mr. West attended Fordham University in New York for a year before applying to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Following graduation from the academy in 1948, he did a stint in the Merchant Marines. His first full-time employment was as deck officer for the Isthmian Steamship Line. This job took the adventurous young man to the far corners of the world.

Following a commission in the U.S. Navy, Mr. West served in the Korean conflict during the early 1950s. The young lieutenant was executive officer on the USS Cross, a destroyer escort. Later, he served as an instructor at the Navy War College in Newport, R.I. It was during this period that the young officer met and married Miss Claire Guillet of New Bedford. The couple's first child, Andy, was born at the Newport Navy Hospital.

Following his naval service, Mr. West moved the family to the Cape where he pursued a career in sales and marketing as a salesman for the Proctor & Gamble Distributing Company. It was here that daughter Andrea was born. A promotion moved the growing West family to Bryn Mawr, Pa., where second son, Michael, was born. A second promotion took the young family to the Buffalo area where Mr. West worked in the capacity of office head salesman.

Mr. West's career in sales and marketing spiralled upward, taking many twists and turns. The young salesman left Proctor & Gamble to work for the Mead Johnson Company as sales manager, followed by a management position with the River Rice Company in Atlanta, Ga., as vice president of sales. He rose to executive vice president of sales when he moved to the Castleberry Foods Company in Augusta, Ga. By now, Mr. West had become a formidable golfer and the myriad opportunities to play the Augusta National Golf Course (host to the annual Masters Tournament) honed his golf skills upward by several notches. While playing in Pro-Ams, he met and played with golf greats Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

Mr. West finished his full-time working career in Houston, Tex., while working, once again, for the River Rice Company, now Riviana Foods, as executive vice president of marketing and sales. In 1984, he retired and moved to West Tisbury. His wife, Claire West, continued her avocation as an antiques dealer and set up shop on the Island in The Red Barn in West Tisbury. Having become full circle, the retiree now shifted his focus from sales to service to the Island community he loved. Hoping to give something back to the Vineyard, he was elected to the Martha's Vineyard Commission where he served one year.

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Claire West, of Lynchburg, Va.; his oldest son, Richard Andrew West, of Phoenix, Ariz.; daughter, Andrea West Hansen, and three grandchildren, of South Lake, Texas; and son Michael West, of Winder, Ga.; a sister, Joyce West Erdman, of Carmicle, Calif., and Edgartown; a brother, Peter C. West, of Edgartown and Fort Myers, Florida; and 10 nieces and nephews.

A graveside service will be held at noon Friday, June 20, at the West Side Cemetery off Robinson Road in Edgartown. The family invites all back to Peter West's residence on Hillman Drive, Katama, following the service.