John Robert West passed away on February 6, 2021, following a recent cancer diagnosis. John was an extraordinary character, and his life reflected his independence, passions, and boundless love of people and adventure.
John was born on June 24, 1943, to Elewyse Bates West and Christopher Patrick West. He often joked that his fierce independence was evident from a very young age. With a high IQ that “didn’t bother” him, John excelled at school, graduating A.C. Jones High School in 1961 before completing Baylor University undergraduate and Law School. John then ran successful title companies in Tilden and Beeville. He loved helping people build new relationships as part of his business.
John had so much fun that his mother reportedly asked him on her deathbed, “John, you never work, how do you make a living?” He was very serious about his play. Everyone who knows John knows of his passion for photography, especially wildlife photography. South Texas wildlife photography was special to John in particular. He was a great supporter of the Wildlife in Focus photography contest and an advocate for the Kritters4Kids program.
Much of his adult life was driven by finding new adventures and creatures to photograph. He traveled to the Serengeti, Alaska, the Amazon, Greece, and Wyoming to create spectacular photos of bears, eagles, lions and moose. As much as he loved taking photos, John delighted in sharing them with others. His camera connected him to everyone and helped him leave every room with new friends.
John collected people and nurtured friendships as a way of life. He truly created family out of friends through good humor and thoughtfulness. You didn’t have to be perfect to be loved by John. He always said, “You’ve got to take people the way they are, not the way you want them to be.”
John is preceded in death by his parents and he is survived by cousins, Grace Saucier of Bay City, Josie Bates Peters of Beeville, and William Dyal of Atlanta, Georgia. Additionally, John is survived by innumerable surrogate children and dear friends. Those missing him include Clair Moore Gioia of Dallas and her husband Fred, along with sons Robert Amos and George West; Jennifer Jackson Vestal of New Braunfels and her husband Rick, along with daughters Harley, Brooke, and Hunter; Samantha Breidenbach Adkins of San Antonio, along with her husband Kevin and sons Bryson and Tyler; Trevor Dragon of Beeville, along with his wife Theresa and son Calvin; Mrs. Rosella Thorne of Dallas and her family; and the Vermillion family of Alaska. Adored friends Jimmy Jackson, John Claude Breidenbach and Carol and Spike Moore helped John through his illness.
John spent his final days charming hospital staff while regaling them with pictures of adventures and exciting stories, all the while speaking in metaphor, no doubt. He often said, “I’ve had three rides on every carousel, and most people spend their whole life waiting in line.”
A small graveside ceremony will take place Saturday, February 13, 2021, at 1 p.m., at Glenwood Cemetery with the Rev. John Lewis Blackburn presiding.
A full, joyful celebration of life will take place at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Wildlife in Focus (https://wildlifeinfocus.org/product/donation/) or Kritters4Kids (https://kritters4kids.org/contact?button=donate).
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