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James E. West

1926 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences Gallery
James E. West

James E. West, 88, after a short illness, died July 30, 2014 in Akron.

He was born in Simpson County, Kentucky on March 28, 1926. He spent his early years farming with his parents, Casey and Dixie, mostly in and around Orlinda, Tennessee. He served in the Army during World War II, stationed in Japan as part of the occupation forces. After his discharge, he met and married Helen L. Barnes in 1947 and they settled to farm on land near Durr's Mill, Tenn. Together they had two sons, Wayne and Michael and a daughter, Diane, who died at the age of 18 months. Jim and Helen farmed in the days of plowing with mules, using wood burning stoves and hand pumping water. His heart never left the farm as he loved "feeling the dirt in my hands" as he tended his city gardens.

After a few years on the farm, they left for Nashville and eventually moved to Cleveland, then bought a house in Brunswick where they stayed for over thirty years and raised their sons. Jim was Scout Master for Troop 517 and in Band Boosters for the Brunswick High School Band. He worked tirelessly in Helen's campaigns for City Council and Mayor. He was extremely proud of Helen's election as the first woman mayor of Brunswick and his engaging personality was instrumental in her elections.

Jim enjoyed working on small engines, woodworking, gardening and telling stories. Most of all, he loved laughing and joking around with people. After retiring from Ford Motor Company, he and Helen eventually settled in the neighborhood of Ellet. He swam a mile every morning at the YWCA in Tallmadge for many years and met a wonderful group of swimmers whom he continued to have breakfast with every Friday morning even after he gave up swimming. They have been a great source of support and friendship for him. Jim enjoyed attending First Congregational Church of Tallmadge where he, once again, made a new set of friends.

After losing Helen in 2003, he met Bernie Spiga, who became his dancing partner and special friend. They danced at the Polish Club, went to the Country Music Association gatherings and traveled to state lodges. After Bernie's death on Christmas Day 2013, her children regularly called and visited with Jim; we truly appreciate them for their love for him.

Jim is survived by his sons, Wayne (Sharon) and Michael (Crickett) and three cherished grandchildren, N. Zachary West, Benjamin (John Forrest), and Jinae. Jim had three sisters, Bernice, Betty and Christine, and five brothers, Earl, Bill, Ernest, Harold, and a twin who died shortly after he was born. He is survived by Christine, Bill and Ernest.

Visitation will be Saturday, August 2, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at NEWCOMER FUNERAL HOME, 131 N. Canton Rd., Akron, OH 44305. Funeral service will begin at 11 a.m. following visitation at the funeral home. There will be a private interment at Eastlawn Memory Gardens in Brunswick. To leave a special message for the family, please visit

Published in Akron Beacon Journal on Aug. 1, 2014
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