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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Welcome Followers

I obviously have many followers whom I greatly appreciate.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my followers and those followers who have “signed on” as followers of this blog.  Recently, a new follower, who signed on with his name, has joined us. 
Thanks Howard for becoming a follower of The Wests of Wilkes.  After I reviewed your profile and family lineage, I discovered that we are 5th cousins with our most recent common ancestors (MRCAs) being Jonathan Land and Elizabeth Isbell.  I look forward to hearing more from you.
In addition, a few months ago, Ron Tipton, my 3rd cousin from my mother’s family—Tipton, Honeycutt, Hughes—signed on as a follower.  Ron’s blog, Tipton Tales and Trails, depicts many of my ancestors from my maternal line.  Thanks, Ron!
Again, anytime anyone wishes to add a comment or include an e-mail address and does not want the comment or e-mail to be published (made public), please indicate that in the comment.  I will not publish those comments that a reader wishes to remain private.  
Followers, I look forward to hearing from you! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The West Patriarchs, Last in the Series, William Charles West, Jr., My Dad

William Charles West, Jr.

My dad, William Charles West, Jr., was born on July 10, 1916, as the first child and only son of William Charles West, Sr. and Ada Beatrice McQueen.  According to his birth certificate he was born in Newland, Avery County, North Carolina, where his father was a superintendent with the local telephone company.  His mother, Ada, was listed as working at “phone central” which, I assume, implied that she was a telephone or switchboard operator for the telephone company.  Family stories relate that she and “Charlie,” as my grandfather was addressed by his friends, met at the telephone company where she worked as a telephone operator. 

Ada, William Charles,
Christine West

For some time the family lived on Spring Street in Johnson City, Tennessee, where my dad's two younger sisters were born, Alzenia Helen in 1918 and Christine “Jack” in 1921.  Within a few years the family moved to 106 West Poplar Street where they lived until Charlie and Ada passed away.  As a boy and teenager Daddy hunted, fished, and played tennis, activities that he enjoyed the rest of his active life.  In fact, while he was still a teenager, he and some of his friends constructed a clay tennis court on a vacant lot on the corner of Poplar and Spring Streets. In his later life, he continued to hunt, fish, and play tennis, and took up the additional hobbies of archery, mountain biking, billiards, and photography.
Through his work and hobbies, Daddy made many friends with whom he enjoyed those activities.  These friends often chided Daddy about his competitive spirit and determination to win.
According to Fred Lowe, my dad’s first cousin, Daddy spent several weeks each summer on the farm of his grandparents, Thomas Harvey and America Ann McNeil West, in Banner Elk.  During those lazy days of summer my dad enjoyed being with Fred, who was about eight years his junior.  Fred described a time when my dad shot a squirrel out of a tree with a BB gun.  He told Fred, who was barefoot, to stop it with his foot.  I’m not sure exactly how the story ended, but I think Fred said that the squirrel bit him on the foot!  Since Daddy enjoyed the outdoors so much, I imagine that those times in Banner Elk were among some of his happiest.   
Charles' High School

Charles in his ROTC

My dad, “Charlie,” as he became known by his friends in his later life, graduated from Science Hill High School in Johnson City and Johnson City Business College.  In 1934, he began working as a messenger boy for the Western Union Telegraph Company in Johnson City.  For those of you who are too young to remember “messenger boys,” they were young men, likely teenagers, who rode bicycles throughout the town delivering telegrams to residences and businesses. 
WU Messenger Boy
Daddy enjoyed “tinkering” with things and working with wood.  While he was in high school, he made several pieces of furniture—two cedar chests, a writing desk, and some smaller objects.  Even as an adult, he continued to enjoy his woodworking hobby by creating many items around the home and special items requested by my mother, my sister, and me.  In fact, he completed much of the work himself on the two homes that he and my mother built during their lifetime. After my sister and I were married, he was always eager to help with building and repair projects in our homes.

Ruth and Charles West
Wedding Photograph

I don't know exactly how or when my parents met.  I believe that I have heard they were introduced by mutual friends.  He and my mother, Ruth Stella Hughes of Johnson City, were married in the parlor of the home of my West grandparents on February 2, 1937.  At that time Daddy was a telegraph operator with Western Union Telegraph Company in Johnson City.  A few years later, by the time I was born in 1941, they moved to Bristol, Tennessee, where my dad was a telegraph operator in that Western Union office.  In 1943 they moved to Kingsport, Tennessee, where he was the manager of the Kingsport office.  He also served as the manager of the office in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1955 and 1956.  In 1956 he returned to the Kingsport office where he remained until 1972 when, with the dawn of a new age in communication technology, telegraph offices began to close.
Immediately after the closing of the Kingsport office, Daddy took a job with Tennessee Eastman Company in Kingsport. He worked in the communications and treasury departments until he retired in 1982.  He was one who needed to be busy and was not ready to “retire” in 1982 at the age of 66.  Therefore, he embarked on a new career, that of an independent tax consultant and later as a tax consultant with H&R Block Tax Services.  With H&R Block he also served as manager of one of the local offices for a number of years.
My dad worked diligently to provide a good home for us during a period just after the depression and during and after World War II when times were hard.  Because his job in communications was critical to the war, he was deferred from the draft.  Even at the age of 4, I remember the rationing of sugar, the ration books, and the housing shortage in Kingsport where the Holston Ordinance Works was churning out ammunitions and explosives for the war effort.  During those troubled times and shortly after my sister, Sandra, was born in 1945, we could not find adequate housing.  Consequently, we shared a house with another family, living, at first, in only two rooms with a shared bath.  Finally, we “moved up in the world” and were able to have the other side of the house with three rooms and a shared bath!

Son and Father
William Charles West, Jr.
William Charles West, Sr.
My parents stressed the importance of education and provided a college education for my sister and me.  In addition, they were loving grandparents to my daughter and my sister’s son.  Sadly, neither of them lived to see their great granddaughter and great grandson, my sister’s two grandchildren.

I remember my dad as a very conscientious, dependable, hard-working, competitive, and honest man with a dry sense of humor.  I know that I have inherited his “obsessive-compulsive” behavior.  Even though I look more like my mother, without question, I have Daddy’s personality, motivation, and determination!  Even today, Daddy’s former tennis buddy, 85-year-old Buford, jokingly refers to me as “Charlie West!”
Ruth and Charlotte
Charles and Sandy
about 1946
In addition, Daddy was “a man of few words.”  This is a quality that I have noticed in other individuals of West lineage, namely, my grandfather West and my dad’s cousin, Fred Lowe.  Not only does Fred possess this characteristic, but also Fred greatly resembles my grandfather and dad and possesses Daddy’s sense of humor.  In addition to physical characteristics, I am convinced that personality characteristics and mannerisms are also inherited.
Charles, about 1959

As with all things, life has its seasons.  Those later years were difficult for my parents who both died of complications of Alzheimer’s disease after a long siege of that debilitating condition.  Mama passed away on June 20, 2007, and Daddy on June 24, 2007.  My sister and I believe that he waited for her “to go” first before he gave up. 
I recognize the fact that he is a “patriarch” only to my immediate family—my sister, my daughter, my nephew, and my nephew’s two children.  However, I was compelled to end my series on the West patriarchs in tribute to him, the last one of my line.

Charlie, 1970s or 1980s

Charlie, 1979
How difficult this has been for me to write.  That’s why I have waited so long.           

Ruth and Charles West, 2003
Hughes Reunion
NuWray Inn, Burnsville, NC
Ruth Stella Hughes, 1918-2007
William Charles West, Jr., 1916-2007