George A. West, 82, of Brookings, SD, passed away on Monday, April 22, 2019, at CHI Lakeside Hospital in Omaha, NE, from complications after a stroke on February 22.
Visitation wason Friday, April 26 at Rude’s Funeral Home in Brookings, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., with a scripture service at 6:30 p.m.
Funeral Mass will be at 10:30 a.m., on Saturday, April 27 at Pius XII Newman Center in Brookings, with Father Andrew Dickinson officiating.
Burial will be at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, in Bryant, SD.
George A. West was born on August 9, 1936, in the Milbank, SD, hospital to John S. West and Nancy L. Tubbs of Big Stone City. He attended school in Big Stone City until 1950, when he enrolled at Crosier High School in Onamia, MN. After graduating in 1954, he continued at Crosier Seminary until 1956, when he headed to Santa Monica, CA, to work for a year. While he was at Crosier, his family moved to Bryant, SD. It was there that he met Wanda Anderson.
George enlisted in the United States Army in 1958 and was stationed in Fort Carson, CO. He married Wanda on September 8, 1958, and was stationed at Fort Lawton in Seattle, WA, as an Spec. 4 with the Hdqtrs. Battery 26th Artillery Group until he was honorably discharged from the Army in 1961 (Reserves until 1964). Their first two daughters, Valerie and Valecia, were born in Seattle.
In 1961, they moved to Sioux Falls, SD, for two years. Their third daughter, Julie, was born there. Next, George completed a Bachelor’s Degree in English at South Dakota State University in Brookings, and was an active member of Kappa Delta Pi and other campus organizations. In 1965, he was awarded a three-year fellowship at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he earned a Master’s Degree in English and completed course work for a Ph.D. in Medieval English Literature (Ph.D. granted in 1972). After teaching for a year at UNL, George and the family moved to Brookings in 1969, where he was an English Professor at South Dakota State University. Their fourth daughter Heather and a son Patrick were born in Brookings.
From 1983 to 1984, George took a leave of absence and taught English at King Saud University in Abha, Saudi Arabia, and Wanda, Heather, and Patrick joined him there. George retired from South Dakota State University as a Professor Emeritus of English in 2000 after 31 years of service, the last 11 years as the Head of the English Department. While teaching, he also participated in local community and civic organizations, e.g., Prairie Chorale, Knights of Columbus, and St. Thomas More Catholic Church choir and CCD classes. His professional life took him from Rhode Island to Manchester, England for various reasons, but he valued most the summers he spent taking groups of teachers to Sinte Gleska University in Mission, SD, for cultural seminars.
George passed on his love for travel to his family, taking them on two-week camping trips every summer.
The family would pile into the car with the car top carrier stuffed to the gills (and later the Ford van that he converted himself) and head across the United States. By the time the youngest child left for college, the family had camped in 36 states and visited Canada. He traveled through France, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein, Germany, England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. Even though he loved to travel, he always headed back to his beloved South Dakota, saying that even without a road sign he would know in his heart that he was in South Dakota. His friends and neighbors played a large part in his love for the area. During retirement, he and Wanda became amateur genealogists and traveled around the U.S. in their quest for family history.
George was a marathon reader and would read anything from Chaucer to a mystery novel to a paperback western. His interests included listening to and playing a wide range of music, putting jigsaw puzzles together, making wine, model railroading, and watching tennis and his favorite sports teams (Nebraska Cornhuskers, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, New York Yankees, and Green Bay Packers).
George had his first heart attack at age 37 and had quadruple heart bypass surgery in 1984 and again in 2002. He continued to live life to the fullest, focusing on his family, the most important thing in his life. He drove hundreds of miles to attend his children’s and grandchildren’s events and would drop everything to help a child with a problem or need, another way he showed his love. He could do anything, from rewiring a house to putting up a fence to refinishing a basement. He was a fighter until the end, riding a bike at the specialty rehabilitation hospital for 30 minutes less than a week before his passing.
George is survived by his wife Wanda of Brookings; his children, Valerie West of St. Louis Park, MN, Valecia West of George, IA, Julie (Don) Hanson of Sioux Falls, SD, Heather West of Inver Grove Heights, MN, and Patrick (Teri) West of Fridley, MN; his grandchildren, Riley, Payton, and Isabelle West of Fridley, MN, and Matthew Hanson of South Bend, IN; his sister, Patricia (Roy) Johnson of Sioux Falls, SD; his sister-in-law, Avis Anderson Johnson of Cuyahoga Falls, OH; his brother-in-law, Dale (Emily) Anderson of Los Gatos, CA; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Nancy (Tubbs) West; his infant son, Thomas West; his sister, Daisy (Tony) Breske; his infant brother, Thomas West; his brother, John West (deceased same day, April 22, hours after George’s passing); his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Palmer and Bertha Anderson.
Memorials may be sent to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Foundation directed to the College of Arts and Sciences English Department Development Fund or to the National Museum of the United States Army.
As George’s favorite color was purple, the family requests everyone feel free to wear a splash of purple in your attire.
Condolences may be sent to the family through www.rudesfuneralhome.com.