William Thomas West Jr.
Oct. 12, 1938 – Sept. 03, 2019
NATCHEZ— Services for William Thomas “Tommy” West Jr., who went to be with his Lord and Savior on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, after a brief illness, will be 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Jefferson Street United Methodist Church in Natchez, with the Rev. Bill Barksdale officiating.
A burial service will immediately follow at Greenlawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Natchez under the direction of Laird Funeral Home.
Visitation will be from 11:30 a.m. until service time Sunday at the church.
Tommy was born Oct. 12, 1938, in Natchez, the son of William Thomas West Sr. (Bill) and Ora Lee West.
He spent his childhood in Natchez, graduating from Natchez High School in 1956. Having been an accomplished athlete in baseball, basketball and tennis, after graduation, Tommy attended Mississippi State University. As a freshman, he served as a trainer on the football team for the 1956 season and became a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity. Discovered by Coach Tom Sawyer on the intramural tennis courts, Tommy was given a scholarship to play tennis at Mississippi State where he lettered four straight seasons and earned numerous SEC honors.
Upon graduation in 1960, Tommy returned to Natchez where he met, pursued and ultimately married the love of his life, Nancy Burrow West, his wife of 50 years who preceded him in death in 2012. Tommy and Nancy remained in Natchez raising their two children, Laura Lee West and Benjamin Wade West until 1968, when the family moved to Jackson, where Tommy became the warehouse manager for Armstrong Tire & Rubber. Upon returning to Natchez in 1973, Tommy continued what would be a 25-year career with Armstrong/Fidelity Tire until his retirement in 1991.
Tommy’s love of tennis from a young age became a lifelong passion, creating and fostering countless friendships, innumerable memories and of course, an untold number of titles and championships. Having played the USTA circuit for more than 25 years, Tommy was ranked in the top two in the South, won several southern regional, state and local titles and was easily regarded as one of the best doubles players in Mississippi and the surrounding states, if not the southeast. While he humbly enjoyed his success on the court, Tommy most appreciated the lifelong friendships he made through his tennis travels and certainly here at home. Tommy was a student of the game but what probably resonated with him most about tennis was the honor, integrity and gentlemanlike manner by which the game was intended to be played.
Tommy was a lifelong member of Jefferson Street United Methodist Church and was very active in the church over the years. As a member of the E.C. Ward class, he made and strengthened many deep friendships through his faith and spiritual love for Christ. Above all else, Tommy’s faith created in him the virtues that most defined him. Tommy will be remembered as a pillar of integrity, unquestionable character and uncompromising honesty. He regarded no one as more or less than another. He was neither impressed or constrained by those of stature or means nor was he pretentious toward those who were not. Simply put, he was a humble friend to many, regardless of what they could do for him or him for them. Always levelheaded, calm and in control, even in the most difficult times, Tommy was a rock of strength, consistency and methodical thought. People were drawn to him for his sense of humor, boisterous personality and his dedication and loyalty to his friends and family.
Tommy was devoted to his wife, children and grandchildren, and forever will be a cornerstone in their lives. He gave all of himself to ensure their happiness and is the standard of character and integrity by which they strive to uphold. As a husband, Tommy was a true soul mate to his wife, providing, leading, encouraging, supporting and loving her in a manner that surely pleased God. As a father, Tommy led his family with love, encouragement, responsibility and selflessness. To his daughter, he demonstrated and instilled self-respect, honor, strength, independence and worth. To his son, he was an undeniable example of how a man is to love his wife, the humility and boldness with which he is to lead his family and the spiritual faith by which he is to lead his life. He challenged and fully expected his children to strive to achieve more than they thought possible, to refuse to accept mediocrity and in doing so, above all else, be respectful of all and demonstrate that respect with exceptional manners and humility. As a grandfather, he showered his grandsons with love and encouragement, held them to the same standard and expectations as that of his children, pouring into them the wisdom and guidance to reach those expectations. Beyond all, he took great joy in spending time with them, supporting them and loving on them.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Nancy Burrow West; his parents; and one sister, Betty Sue Hudson of Kimberly, Idaho.
Survivors include his children, Laura Lee West of Starkville, (formerly Memphis, Tennessee; Benjamin Wade West and wife, Kathryn G. (Katie) West of Memphis; two grandsons, William Thomas West III and Howard Graham West; one sister, Billy Ann Foster of Vidalia; and a number of nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank Tommy’s sister, Billie Ann Foster, for her unwavering dedication, support and love. Further, the family recognizes and will forever hold in their hearts dear friends that loved Tommy and his wife, Nancy, for almost 60 years. He will be fondly remembered by his fellow Jefferson Street members, the Boys of Summer and their families, the tennis community and countless others.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any memorials be made to Jefferson Street United Methodist Church, 511 Jefferson St., Natchez, MS 39120 or Memphis Gridiron Ministries Inc., 4403 Tuckahoe Road, Memphis, TN 38117.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at lairdfh.com.