JACK MILTON WEST, 91
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LAKELAND - On December 9, 2012, Jack Milton West died of natural causes, surrounded by his family.
He was born September 17, 1921 in Waco, Texas to Thressa Moore and Grady West. He will be remembered for his integrity, his love of country, community and family.
He graduated with honors from Waco High School while working jobs to help feed the family and managing to play football, too. The summer after graduation, he fed a family of five by digging post holes for Texas Power and Light. He had received a football scholarship to the University of Texas, which he was eventually able to accept once his father was employed by the railroad. He played under Coach Dana Bible and was on the team that took the Longhorns to their first playoff game in the school's history, the Cotton Bowl.
He finished at the university a term early because he was called to serve his country. He was proud to do so and he served in the Pacific theatre as a Navy communications officer on a PT boat His tour of duty took him through the battles of Leyte Gulf, Halmahera Sea, and Surigao. He loved his country, its rights and freedom for which he fought.
Upon returning from World War II, he married the former Geraldine Payne, whom he loved dearly. He was most grateful to God for all the blessings bestowed upon him, most especially marriage.
He was a salesman all his professional life with a robust sense of humor and fair play, a gentleman who never knew a stranger. He became the co-owner with Lou Fogassey of the Anheuser Busch distributorship in Lakeland and built it from a fledgling enterprise into a dominant presence in the beer industry. He supported local civil rights by being the first to integrate his delivery personnel. He put his business on the line for the equal right of all to enter the establishments of Polk County. He and Lou changed the face of this business by fighting the political, legal and cultural mores of the time with their Christian walks of integrity and fairness.
He loved Lakeland and was always involved in his city, feeling himself blessed to have spent his adult life here. He coached Little League, was a member of the Rotary Club which honored him as one of their Harris Fellows. Upon coming to Lakeland, he was an early member of St. David's Episcopal Church when it was a mission and he helped it to grow by serving on the vestry multiple times and working on the Christmas tree sale. He spent years as a volunteer ombudsman for nursing homes. He loved to dance, garden, raise roses, golf, play bridge and poker; all of which he did with gusto.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, his two children Dr. Michael (Susan) Athens, Georgia, Kay (Gary), Lakeland, Florida, 3 grandchildren (Nick, Jeff and Jessica), one great granddaughter (Ella), Barrie and Jackson Bennette, Lakeland, Fl. His brother Robert and sister Margaret preceded him in death.
He had a long, full life. His family gives thanks to God for Jack's life and the love he shared with us. For 15 years, he endured the cruel walk of dementia and all its concomitant indignities with grace, acceptance and gentleness.
A celebration of life will be held at All Saints' Episcopal Church on Saturday, December 15 at 10am with a private committal following the service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the continuing ministries of All Saints' Episcopal Church.
Condolences may be sent to the family at
Published in Ledger from Dec. 12 to Dec. 13, 2012