The Obit For Tom West

W. Thomas ‘Tom’ West Sr., 86, dies

By Ellen Robertson

timesdispatch.com, December 20, 2008

William Thomas "Tom" West Sr. remembered when Hanover County was mostly rural and people were truly neighbors to one another.

He tried to invoke that neighborly spirit as he served on the Hanover Board of Supervisors from 1968 to the late 1970s and on the relatively new Richmond Regional Planning District Commission, which he chaired in 1974, said his son, W. Thomas "Tommy" West Jr. of Old Church.

The 86-year-old retired nurseryman, farmer and former merchant will be remembered at a funeral today, Saturday, at 2 p.m. The service will be held at the Mechanicsville Chapel of Bennett Funeral Home, 8014 Lee Davis Road in Mechanicsville. Burial will be in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Henrico.

Mr. West, who lived in Mechanicsville, died Thursday in a Richmond hospital after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week.

While he was on the Board of Supervisors, "he was heavily involved when they started putting in sewers in Hanover around Mechanicsville," his son said. "That was his pet project."

Mr. West, who his son said "never found anybody he didn't like," found that "there wasn't a whole lot of regional cooperation on the planning commission at the time" he served on it.

Commission members who represented Richmond and the surrounding counties dealt with such issues as manpower planning, water and sewer, police training and development and preservation of open spaces, as well as the new idea of regional cooperation.

For many years, Mr. West lived across the road from his birthplace on U.S. 360 in Old Church, 6 miles east of Mechanicsville. In 1940, he graduated from the old Battlefield Park High School, where he played baseball.

During World War II, the Army wouldn't take him because he was missing a finger and most of the thumb on his left hand. The hand didn't stop him from working at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard during World War II.

And he continued to play baseball -- for the minor league Scranton, Pa., Red Sox and the semi-professional Richmond Colts. He retained his membership in the Professional Baseball Players Association.

A man with deep local roots, he was a Hanoverian whose grandfather started a general store in Old Church after the Civil War. Some Hanover residents still say they live in the West Store area of the county.

Tom West Sr. bought the store from his uncle in the late 1940s and ran it until he sold it in 1966. In 1974, Mr. West and his son founded West Nursery and Garden Center in Old Church.

"We started out as a greenhouse growing Hanover tomatoes for local farmers and gradually grew into a full-line garden center," his son said. The elder West sold the nursery to his son and retired in 1984.

Mr. West was the widower of Catherine Jones West, who died in 1991.

Survivors, besides his son, include two granddaughters and four great-grandchildren.