Willie Mae West, widow of Robert C. West, died peacefully at her home in Tucson, Arizona, Wednesday, November 27, 2013. Willie Mae Burgess—named after her father, William—was born in Decatur, Alabama, and grew up in Georgia and Alabama. During World War II, she worked for the government, first in Seattle and then at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, where, at a Georgia-Auburn football game, she met a young lieutenant from central Missouri, Robert Crawley West. They married in 1946, and Willie worked as a bookkeeper to support Bob while he completed his engineering degree at Georgia Institute of Technology. By 1953 they had had two children, Bob Jr. and Susan, and were living in St. Louis, where Bob Sr. started a long and successful career that concluded with his service as Chairman and CEO of Sverdrup Corporation, a multinational engineering and architecture firm. In 1959 Willie and Bob and their young children moved to Bangkok, Thailand, where Bob supervised the building of a dam in northern Thailand and Willie entertained in grand style. In the decades following that adventure, Willie and Bob traveled the world for business and pleasure. As Bob earned recognition for his engineering and civic contributions, Willie served on the board of the St. Louis Symphony and as president of the St. Louis Women's Association, leading fundraisers and events for the symphony, the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center, Epworth Children and Family Services, and many other organizations. She was a member of Salem in Ladue United Methodist Church and P.E.O. (philanthropic educational organization). In 1980, Willie was named a St. Louis Woman of Achievement for cultural enrichment. In the late 1970s, Willie and Bob began spending part of the year in Tucson, Arizona, where their son had settled. There, Willie cultivated many friends through her activities in the local P.E.O. chapter, the Patio Garden Club, and the Tucson Symphony Women's Association. In 2002 Bob died of Parkinson's disease; and in 2011 Willie became a full-time resident of Arizona. She will be remembered for her beauty and her style, her many civic and cultural achievements, her talent for organizing, and her flair for entertaining, her high standards and determination, and her kindness to her many friends. Willie is survived by a sister, Elizabeth, of Columbus, Georgia; a daughter, Susan, of San Francisco, and several nieces and nephews. A Memorial Service will be held at Salem in Ladue United Methodist Church, 1200 South Lindbergh Boulevard in Ladue, Missouri, at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 followed by an 11:30 a.m. reception at the Saint Louis Club, 7701 Forsyth Boulevard. Please consider a contribution in Willie's name to the St. Louis Symphony or Cottey College. Arrangements in Tucson by ADAIR FUNERAL HOMES, Dodge Chapel; in St. Louis by Lupton Chapel.
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