Bill West

FTLComm - Tisdale - Friday, June 4, 2004

He was born during the second year of World War I making him very much a twentieth century man. Growing up on a farm a mile from the little hamlet of Langbank in southeastern Saskatchewan, Bill West was the very essence of the community in which he lived, served and enjoyed every minute of his life.

He had already established himself as one of those individuals who could do difficult things when World War II came along and the military considered his eyesight a bit of a problem but at twenty-seven and with his boundless energy, he entered the Canadian air force as a mechanic.

While stationed in Manitoba he met and married Irene who was the perfect partner for a man who seemed to have so much energy. When the war ended they came back to Langbank and by the time I became a teenager, West's garage was the hub of activity in a town with only eight-four people. Bill West the mechanic, was also Bill West my Free Press customer, who waded through the paper every day as his interests were as wide as his abilities.

Bill could fix things, cars, agricultural equipment, hunting rifles, or just about anything that was broken. His shop doubled and redoubled in the years we lived across the street from he and his family, with customer vehicles often five wide and three deep in front of the shop.

Mechanics and workmen of all types were caught in the vortex of his business and the goofy kid across the street, who never could figure out what size of a wrench was needed. When it was clear I wasn't cut out to be an mechanic, Bill West put me to work as a painter and clean-up guy for a summer or more. His patience with my screw ups was endless, even when a Massey 44 special got away on me while I was painting the inside of the wheels and climbed up the west door to the shop. It used to take me about four days to prepare and paint a 44 Massey but Bill had patience and by the time I was ready for college I could polish one off in five hours. I even gave his Jeep a Massey Harris paint job.

Farmers depended on this man day and night to keep their operations running and he had concern compassion and I never heard him complain. Late at night, struggling to get an engine together, he would willingly discuss all manner of things with insight and a bemused sense of humour.

But what a next door neighbour, he supported every community project and seemed almost always running from one emergency to another, glad to help.

For some reason when skills were handed out, Bill West had knowledge and ability in all manner of things and when it was time to get a new outhouse hole, Bill was the expert with the dynamite that drilled a hole neater than any digging equipment. (right)

Hunting, fishing, square dancing, having fun, there was always time to be made for the important things and he considered the needs of everyone as important.

Most of his peers have already left this world and those still remaining look to be on borrowed time. His fellow Legion members were there to see him off Wednesday, but everyone who ever met Bill West will carry around a bit of his example, we are all better for having worked with this man who was there when he was needed.

Timothy W. Shire


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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
Faster Than Light Communication
Box 1776, Tisdale, Saskatchewan, Canada, S0E 1T0
306 873 2004