Terms of the Deal
For Eileen West, there was always "the deal" she had with her husband, Peter M. West. The deal was an agreement that spontaneity had its time and its place, and that Mrs. West was the one to say, gently, when and where. On vacations, Mr. West, a municipal bond broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, could do his latest daredevil thrill, like skydiving or hang-gliding. "But never on the first day of vacation," said Mrs. West, a hospital administrator, "always on the last."
A lifelong fan of James Dean, Mr. West, 54, wanted a motorcycle. "But the deal was, only when the kids were finished with college," Mrs. West recalled.
So in 1997, days after their daughter, Meredith, graduated from college (they also have a son, Matthew), Mr. West bought a starter motorcycle, a Yamaha. Last year, he bought his dream machine, a Harley- Davidson Softail Deuce. It was a black and chrome beauty that Mr. West got at a special auction; his bid was far higher than the motorcycle's usual $16,000 price tag.
On weekends, Mr. West, in leather chaps, would roar off from the couple's home in Pottersville, N.J., sometimes for hours. One day, a police officer asked Mr. West who was following him in the blue Audi. "My wife," he replied.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 18, 2001.
Peter West, adventurer with a Harley
Matthew West said a female friend of his father once made a rather startling confession.
"You know, I've been sleeping with your father," the friend said.
The truth: the woman often rode the same train into New York with Peter West, a vice president at eSpeed, a division of Cantor Fitzgerald.
"Every morning she would take the train in with him, and fall asleep on his shoulder," Matthew West said, laughing.
"He was fun-loving and generous," said Peter West's wife, Eileen.
Mr. West, 54, was in his office on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower when the first hijacked airplane crashed into it on Sept. 11.
"As soon as I heard the plane hit the building, I called him," Matthew West recalled. "There was no answer. I thought it might have been a Cessna; some yahoo had crashed into the building. Then I turned on the TV . . . I kept thinking he had time to get out, he had time to get out."
Born in Morristown, Mr. West grew up in Madison, where he worked at his father's store, Arthur West's Pharmacy. In 1965, Mr. West graduated from Madison High School and attended Fordham University's School of Pharmacy. He and his wife lived in Chatham for more than 20 years until moving to Pottersville two years ago.
Mr. West was "part altar boy, part joker, someone who knew how to keep a straight face in the right situation but also knew when to cut loose," according to his son, a Boston Herald photographer.
And he loved adventure. Mr. West and his wife traveled frequently; their destinations included Ireland, France, Great Britain and Italy. But Mr. West didn't need to go overseas to find adventure. He would often hop on his Harley-Davidson, a Softail Deuce, and ride it through Hunterdon and Somerset counties, or through the Delaware Water Gap. He started taking flying classes. Several years ago, he went skydiving.
"My mom asked him to do it on the last day of their vacation so she could get some good times out of it first," Matthew West said.
"We had a very close relationship," his son said. "In many ways he was my best friend. He was best man at my wedding."
Mr. West also is survived by a daughter, Meredith of South Boston, Mass.; three brothers, Vincent of Basking Ridge; Arthur of Morris Plains, and Gregory of Buena Park, Calif.; three sisters, Regina Townsend of Convent Station, Catherine McLaughlin of Chester and Mary Louise Ball of Point Lookout, N.Y.
Profile by Peter Genovese published in THE STAR-LEDGER.