John C. West Exhibit
South Carolina Political Collections
South Caroliniana Library
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bull1.gif - 900 BytesWest Family

Political Life and the
West Family

Lois West has been an active partner in her husband's political career. Reflecting on her life in politics, Mrs. West said, "you can either go willingly or be dragged kicking and screaming. So I figured I'd go gracefully, and I tried to help every way I could. It's a hard life. It takes a lot of effort.

"You get some criticism that you really don't enjoy, and your children are subjected to some of that. I tried to tell our children that they had some privileges and opportunities that they wouldn't have otherwise, and at the same time they were going to get some criticism that they wouldn't have otherwise, and it would sort of balance out."

John and Lois West with their children, Douglas, Shelton, and John, Jr., circa 1970-1975 West family portrait

Political campaigning is a family affair. Lois West remarked, "I like people, but it's difficult to campaign. It's hard. There are parts of it that are nice because you make friends that you wouldn't meet any other way.

"There's a fellow who lived out at the mill, and I asked him why he worked so hard for John. He said, 'I don't have any education. I don't know what's best for me, but I think Mr. West is an honest man, and I think he's smart. If I help him go over there, he'll do what's best for me,' which gives you the essence of it all."

John West with his mother, Mrs. Mattie Ratterree West, at the opening of his campaign headquarters in 1966. West with his mother

Lois West played an integral role in running the Embassy. She commented, "Saudi Arabia had been a Class 4 Embassy, and it was changed to a Class 1 Embassy because the Saudi affairs were becoming internationally recognized and the oil wealth was such that it was a very important place at that time. But the Embassy was an old house. All of a sudden you're Class 4 and now you're Class 1, overnight, and it wasn't equipped that way."

Under those circumstances, entertaining became a creative challenge. "We took [the] screen porch and glassed it in and made a big dining room. We could seat one hundred and twenty people at a time, and John felt that entertaining at a meal was one of the ways that he could be effective, and it was so."

John Jr. receives a smart salute from family members as he prepares to attend The Citadel.Family salute

Historic Marker Commemorates John West's
Boyhood Home

In December 1999, the Kershaw County Historical Society honored John West by placing a historic marker at his boyhood home. The dedication ceremony featured remarks by Harvey Teal, former President of the South Caroliniana Society, an officer of the Kershaw County Historical Society, and a long-time friend of John West.

Gov. and Mrs. West with Mr. TealGovernor John C. West with his wife Lois and Harvey Teal in front of historic marker, Dec. 1999.

See article in the Spring 2000 issue of Caroliniana Columns.

In his remarks directed to West, Teal noted: "You have honorably served your country, your state and your nation with diligence, distinction, and dedication. In recognition of that service and to honor you, all of your legion of friends and associates join with the Kershaw County Historical Society, the sponsoring organization, in erecting this historical marker on the land of your birth."

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