Longtime Sycamore Valley tobacco farmer and carpenter of the Pleasant Shade Community, Mr. Louie Gray West, died at the age of 89 at 5:06 a.m. on Wednesday morning February 8, 2023 at the Smith County Health and Rehabilitation Center in Carthage where he was admitted a day earlier suffering from congestive heart failure from St. Thomas West Hospital in Nashville where he had been a patient since January 6th. Before being transferred to St. Thomas West he had been at the Riverview Regional Medical Center in Carthage since being admitted Christmas Day of 2022.
His church pastor, Eld. Jeff Patterson, officiated at the 11 a.m. Saturday morning February 11th funeral services from the Carthage Chapel of Sanderson Funeral Home. Burial followed beside his wife Shelbie, in section five at the Defeated Creek Memorial Gardens.
The younger of two sons he was born August 30, 1933 on the West Point farm of his parents, the late William Horace West who died January 7, 1976 at the age of 72 and Nellie Gray (Nell) Lankford West who died June 5, 1988 at the age of 82.
His older brother, Earl Morris West, preceded Louie Gray in death on February 13, 2007 at the age of 78.
The West family farm on West Point is now the home of the Defeated Creek Park and Campground operated by the Corps of Engineers. The foundation of the West family smokehouse is still visible in the section of the park trail where the bench sits at the lakes edge.
Mr. West is the last surviving of the West Point residents to die who were born, reared and farmed the land there.
Mr. West was a 1953 graduate of Smith County High School where he majored in agriculture and played football his first three years and the last three years was, because of his height, was an outstanding player on the Owls Basketball team that was undefeated and went to the state championship, but fell short of the title.
Being deeply ingrained in agriculture, he was F.F.A. president his junior year, vice-president his senior year, F.F.A. State representative his sophomore year, on the F.F.A. skills team and field crop judging team his junior and senior years, served on the class ring committee to select the senior class ring design and was a member of the student council his senior year. He was also a member of the Hobby and Science clubs.
At the Friendship Primitive Baptist Church on October 17, 1954, he was united in marriage to Defeated Creek Community native, the former Shelbie Sue Kemp and they would experience a wonderful life together as one for forty seven years before her death at the age of 65 on January 19, 2002.
Because of a revival meeting beginning on that Sunday morning, the wedding ceremony was officiated at 8 a.m. by then church pastor, Eld. E.S. Frye.
He and his wife Shelbie founded and oversaw the operation of Asbestos Abatement West Corporation which handled inspection and abatement of asbestos in schools, hospitals and public institutions.
Mr. West was a skilled carpenter and he and his father, Horace and father-in-law, Ernest “Butts” Kemp, constructed the Tennessee and Smith County Tobacco Warehouses in South Carthage for tobacconist Lutch Oldham and Walter Taylor.
Mr. West was an accomplished builder and was employed for several years with the former Dillehay Brothers Construction Company, who constructed many homes in the area.
Before retirement in 2003, he was a rural letter carrier for the old route one and route two mail routes out of the Pleasant Shade Post Office.
One of his favorite pastimes, since his retirement, was going to the Woodard Brothers Store in his beloved Defeated Creek and visiting with old friends and neighbors and making new friends from the residents that had moved in around the lake.
Mr. West has been a faithful and dedicated member of the Friendship Primitive Baptist Church in the Defeated Creek Community where his father and mother’s families were lifelong members.
In his beloved church he served as song leader and church clerk for over thirty years.
Surviving are his two children, Smith County Drug co-owner and pharmacist, Cozette West Manus and her husband Chris and their two daughters, Hailey Lauren Manus and Shelbie Lynn Manus all of the Tanglewood Community, son, Keith West and wife Daphne of Scottsville, Kentucky and their son Matthew Keith West of Hazard, Kentucky.
The West family has requested memorials to either the Friendship Primitive Baptist Church or the Jordan Hackett Foundation.
SANDERSON of CARTHAGE