Robert Edward West
Bob West died on April 19, 2005 from a lung fibrosis condition, complicated by pneumonia.
A native Vermonter, Bob was born in Londonderry on August 9, 1936 to Lewis Alfred and Cora Mae (Norse) West. He prepared for Amherst at Burr & Burton Seminary.
Amherst classmate Moe Wolff remembers, “Bob was a very humble and courteous human being, with a ready smile and an eagerness to share and to listen to someone else’s view. He seemed shy at first, but that I believe was part of his New England sense of reserve and restraint.” “Shy, quiet, reserved.” There are others who have echoed these thoughts in their comments about Bob. At the same time, Bob’s impressive career at Amherst certainly suggests more outgoing facets to his personality: Sphinx, Vice-Chairman of the Student, Managing Editor of the Olio, Chairman of the Blood Drive, Manager of Freshman Cross-Country (where he earlier won his “1958” numerals), House Manager of Theta Delt, Christian Association, Masquers (as a member of which he directed the play Salomé), and the Career Conference Committee.
After graduating from Yale Law School in 1961, Bob returned to his native Vermont, practicing law and participating fully in the political life of the state. Starting off at Ryan, Smith, & Carbine in Rutland, he went on to be state’s attorney for Rutland County (1965 to 1969) and a member of the Vermont General Assembly (1969 to 1973). Bob also served for many years as a grand juror and member of the Vermont Judicial Selection Board. He was Vermont’s first defender general. In addition, he served on the boards of the Boy Scouts and other service organizations.
Bob also had a passionate interest in the outdoors (Hutch Tibbetts recalls meeting him a number of times when Bob worked on Stratton Mountain) and in history. In 1977, the Governor of Vermont appointed Bob, in recognition of his environmental interests, to coordinate Vermont’s participation in a federally funded study of Lake Champlain. He was known in Manchester for his many years of service to the local historical society, being “very active in everything,” according to the society’s president, Mary Hard Bort, as reported in the Boston Globe. Particularly significant in his historical society activities was his leading of hikes up to the summit of Mt. Equinox. Art Powell recalls that Bob delighted in telling him that these walks replicated ones led in the 1850s by Edward Hitchcock, Amherst’s famous geologist president. Later on in his life, Bob was a professor of American history at Bennington College.
Bob was remembered with a eulogy at the meeting of the Manchester Historical Society next following his death.
Bob married Judith Seaver on July 12, 1969, by whom he had a daughter, Susan. This marriage ended a number of years before Bob’s death. He is also survived by his two brothers, Bradford and James West, of Manchester, and by nieces and nephews, to whom the class extends its condolences.
John E. G. Bischof
Robert Edward West