James D. West, Jr.

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  • "Roberta/Wendy...hope you got my message sent via Riverside...."
  • "Oh, my dear friend, Roberta. My heart feels with you..."
    - Selma Putnam
  • "Goodbye friend Jim, I had not seen you in many years since..."
    - victor padilla
  • "I made many mistakes when I headed the Corrections Dept. in..."
    - Ed Mahr
  • - Erin Anderson
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James D. West, Jr.

Were you to meet Jim West, he would give you a warm smile and then want to know if you were from New Mexico, where you went to high school, what your parents did for a living. This was the beginning of his twenty questions and it was how he got to know you. You had to

answer carefully, though. Jim would remember everything you said, probably better than you could, because to him, no matter who you were, you mattered.

James D. West, Jr. died Wednesday, October 11. He was born in Toledo, Ohio. After a year at Bowling Green State University, Jim decided the Marine Corps was the place for him. He returned from his three years of service with a profound appreciation for education that stayed with him his entire life. Jim returned to BGSU and graduated with dual degrees in education. He then moved to New Mexico to study for one year. He never left. He got his Masters in history at Southern Methodist University and then his Ph.D in Education Administration from the University of New Mexico. While completing his degrees, Jim taught in the Albuquerque Public Schools, was an assistant professor at UNM, and created School on Wheels, an alternative degree path for students who do not thrive in a traditional classroom setting. He then moved to Santa Fe to be the Director of Education for the NM Department of Corrections and brought that education system to a new level of success. After the riot in February, 1980, Jim's responsibilities changed dramatically, and he established the NM Corrections Training Academy. By 1982, he needed a change and became a Financial Consultant with Merrill Lynch for the next five years.

Retirement brought a new freedom, including many trips to favorite spots like Cambria, California and Iguazu Falls. He spent many hours both playing golf and watching it. He never missed a news cycle nor the market close. He loved Rachmaninoff and Beethoven, structure, schedules, numbers, scotch, beer, brie, cigarettes, Pizza Hut, our spectacular sunsets, contemporary art, and getting a good a deal.

He is survived by his beloved wife Roberta, his daughter Wendy West, two sisters and their families, Roberta's children Sheri Tollefson, Dave Tollefson and their families.

Jim started a scholarship at UNM called the "Late Bloomers Fund" to assist students returning to college after a break in their education.

En lieu of the money you'd spend on flowers or food for us, make a donation in his name to the fund: www.unmfund.org.

A service for Jim will be held at Rancho San Marcos in Santa Fe.

Please bring a favorite memory, and if you can't attend, email it to us. It will be at 11 AM on Saturday, October 21, one-day shy of what would have been his 79th birthday.

Arrangements entrusted to:


3232 Cerrillos Road

Santa Fe

(505) 395-9150

Funeral Home
Riverside Funeral Home of Santa Fe
3232 Cerrillos Rd
Santa Fe, NM 87507
(505) 395-9150
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Published in Albuquerque Journal from Oct. 18 to Oct. 20, 2017