Wilburn “Walt” West, 102, of Pampa, TX, died Thursday, February 9, 2023.
Graveside services will be at 2:00 p.m., Wednesday, February 15, 2023, at Fairview Cemetery in Pampa, TX with Military rites by VFW Post 1657. Arrangements are by Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors, 2800 Paramount Blvd., Amarillo.
Walt, a World War II (Army) veteran, and the eldest of 15 children was born May 17, 1920, in Clarksville, AR to Charley Hoyt West and Ina Esther Reeves West. In 1928, the family moved to the Delhi flats southwest of Erick, OK to farm. While attending school at Delhi, the love for cars was born. The students of Delhi School marveled over the constant flow of automobiles that passed by the front of the school as travelers made their way down historic Highway 66.
Being the eldest, Walt joined the Civilian Conservation Corp in 1937. Money was sent home to help support a growing family. Twenty-eight months passed with the C.C.C. at Clinton, OK until a better job closer to home was found. The Army called in June of 1942. On his last furlough, Walt married his sweetheart Willie Lamm in August of 1943 before being shipped overseas to serve with the 318th Field Artillery Headquarters Battalion attached to the 81st Infantry Division. Reaching the rank of sergeant technician, Walt’s duties were as head mechanic and 50 caliber machine gunner. The next two years were spent in the Pacific combat zone. Action was seen on the islands of Angaur and Peleliu in 1944. The National Museum of the Marine Corp calls the battle for the island of Peleliu “the bitterest battle of the war for the Marines.” Walt also saw duty on the island of Leyte and the spearhead Division for occupied Japan.
Willie worked in a munition factory in Kansas until Walt was discharged in time to return home for Christmas in 1945. Both joined the VFW post in Pampa in 1947 as lifetime members. Pampa became their lifetime home with a move from Shamrock in the fall of 1946. A job opening with Cabot Corp was obtained in July of 1947 and provided employment for the next 38 years. With retirement came time to pursue an interest in the Red River Indian Wars (1872-1876). Twelve years were spent working with County Commissioner Gerald Wright documenting the involvement of the sixth Calvary and others. Artifacts from the Calvary collected during this time are on display at the White Deer Land Museum.
An avid gardener, countless pounds of vegetables are given to family, friends, and those in need each summer. With 102 years of life adventures behind him, he could always be found in his garden or under the hood of one of his antique cars.
Walt is survived by his four children, Bill West and wife Mary of Pampa, TX, Harry West and wife Nicki of Canyon, TX, Linda West of Pampa, TX, and Carolyn Zilmer of Amarillo, TX; sister, Mary Lister of CA; 11 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; and 7 great-great-grandchildren with 1 on the way.