Phone: (317) 925-3800(317) 925-3800
Mr. Richard A. "Dick" West
May 06, 1925 - February 09, 2017
In Loving Memory of Richard A. "Dick" West
Richard Allan (Dick) West passed into heaven on February 9th, 2017, after being at home with wife Dovey for 15 months following a stroke in November 2015. He was 91.
Dick was born to Harold Bertram West and Hilda Kirkman West in 1925, and grew up on the north side of Indianapolis, attending the all-male Park (High) School, where he graduated in 1942. He attended Culver Military Academy’s summer school and Junior College, where he became an ensign and officer. He then served in the US Army as a baker for post-war troops in Japan, and returned to graduate from DePauw University in 1948. He loved ballroom dancing, and dated and later married Florence Gleason (an IU beauty queen) in November 1952, and they remained lovingly married for 64 years!
Following his father’s death in 1954, he assumed the presidency of his father’s business, West Baking Company in Indianapolis, which served grocery breads, rolls, and buns to Central Indiana groceries. In 1968 he and his brother Steve shifted the company’s focus to a larger scale via a contract with the emerging McDonald’s hamburger chain, building the first high-speed automatic bun factory in the nation, baking and distributing products to restaurants in Ohio and Michigan. After initial success, their business expanded to the United Kingdom, where they helped grow McDonald’s from 25 to 250 restaurants in 10 years. Finally they built two additional plants in Indiana, serving over 500 McDonald’s and Ponderosa restaurants, and was the first to employ disabled people in his bakery operations, overseen by Goodwill Industries. The family then sold the operations in 1986.
In the early eighties, Dick experienced a personal encounter with Jesus, and felt he was being directed to leave the business world and turn his focus to philanthropy. He founded and became the primary funding source for Westwood Endowment, a private foundation focused on bringing food, water, medicine, and self-sufficiency to the 3rd-world's needy, and to spread Christ's gospel around the world. Dick advised other mission organizations with his business acumen; most notably, he played a major role in saving Goodwill Industries in Panama after much of that organization's property was destroyed in 1989.
His service works include representing the American Baking Association, Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana (board member, active involvement 50+ years), graduating from the American Institute of Baking (Manhattan, KS), Weekday Religious Education (board member), World Neighbors (board member and interim president), and Tabernacle Presbyterian Church’s missions committee. He was 43-year member of Tabernacle.
From age 11, he spent his summers at the family home on Lake Maxinkuckee near Culver, Indiana. He became an avid water skier, state-ranked at tricks and jumping, and judged national competitions as an officer of the American Water Ski Association. He also enjoyed snow skiing, starting in Michigan, and migrating to Sun Valley, Idaho, and Aspen, Colorado. He mentored his wife and all 4 children in these skiing activities. In his later years, he and Dove enjoyed watching the Indianapolis Colts football team play their games.
Dick had a quick and agile mind, strategic and analytical, and was generous with his time and resources, often taking personal interest to help employees and others in need. He was a devoted father and husband, deeply committed to God, sacrificially motivated to give back to God because of Jesus’ sacrifice for him. He focused on living out his faith, considering his life a tool in God’s hands. His personal relationship with God inspired and informed each endeavor he undertook. He added levity to situations through his whistling, upbeat mood, and dry humor.
Dick is survived by his wife Florence (Dovey) Gleason West, sons Hal (Germaid) West, Mike West, daughter Deborah (Pebba) Davis (Chuck), and grandchildren Rebekah Davis Jones (Andrew), Suzanna Davis Boom (David), Jeremy Davis (Kayley), Jordan and Bethany Davis, Sean, Brendan and Gavin West, and great-grandchildren Avery and Benjamin Jones, Elliott, Grant, Rosalie and Annabelle Davis. He was preceded in death by brother Stephen West, and son Bradford West.
The family is deeply grateful for the devoted service of his business assistants and accountants Doris McHargue, Joanna Day, Rita Sink, Suzy Roth, Cindy Schwefel, and Ginger Otto, and his post-stroke caregivers Carolyn Samuelson, Susan Otto, Carole Carter, Brenda Minion, Nicole Johnson, Teresa Hazel, Angela Corbin, Monique Nelson, Donna Bryan, Sharmaine Peden, Vickie Swanson, Eva Doczyk, Jody Curl, Carrie Qualls, Maria Keye, and for the past 8 months, the excellent care management of Rich Anderson. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Westwood Endowment, 820 Broad Street - #300, Chattanooga, TN 37402, or to a Christian charity of your choice.
A visitation will be held from 4:30 to 8:00pm on Friday, Feb. 17, at Crown Hill Funeral Home, 700 W 38th Street, Indianapolis. The funeral service is at 2:30pm Saturday, Feb. 18, at Tabernacle Presbyterian Church, 418 E 34th Street, Indianapolis, IN.