Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Richard Earl ?Sid? West

"Big Sid" graduated from this earth with high honors on March 15, 2008, after years of determination to live his life to the fullest. He was a resident of Ketchum since 1990, and moved to Boise in July 2007, where his daughter and her family reside.

"Doc" West was born in Chicago, Ill., on Sept. 19, 1920. He was the son of Mary and Richard Wesselius, who were both accomplished musicians. Sid learned how to play the piano by ear, and never learned to read music. He graduated from Illinois Dental School, was a Valedictorian, and earned an Oral Surgery Scholarship. He served his country as a dentist in the Marines in World War II. He traveled the world touching many lives.

"Westy" met the love of his life, Rita Ann Roper, in the Empire Room at the Palmer House in Chicago in 1949. The Abbott Acrobatic Dancer won his heart, and they were married on Sept. 26th that year. Rita and Earl had their first child, Wendy, Nov. 5, 1950. Earl Wesselius legally changed his last name to West, before Thomas Jay was born on April 26, 1955. Tragically, on May 22, 1955, Rita and Earl's first daughter Wendy died suddenly. One year later, their daughter Christy-Jo was born on June 13, 1956.

Earl practiced dentistry until 1981 in the Chicago suburbs, and was loved by all his patients. He was an avid competitive water skier, expert snow skier and ski instructor, unique piano player, entertainer, and devoted family man with an incredible wit.

The West family cherished many years of fun together living on Diamond Lake in Illinois, water skiing in the summer and snow skiing in the winter. Their yard was a playground personally designed by Earl West himself, for all to enjoy.

Earl, Doc, Westy was nicknamed "Sid" after a close friend claimed he looked just like Charlton Heston in the movie "El Sid". Sid moved from Diamond Lake to Ketchum to be with his children, Tom and Christy, after losing his wife Rita to cancer in 1986. Sid was the ultimate optimist who loved people and everything about life. He would light up any room with his smile, a joke, or a tune.

He is survived by his strong sister Vivian Coe of Chicago; his brother Howard VanProyen of California; his devoted son Thomas Jay West of Ketchum; his dedicated daughter Christy and her husband Larry Flynn of Boise; along with his beloved grandchildren Jackson Patrick and Rita Marie Flynn. He is preceded in death by parents Richard and Mary Wesselius, and dear sister Jean Rutherford.

Sid would like all his friends to celebrate his life with a "Big Sid Boogie" in Sun Valley. The date and time will be announced.

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