[52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks] Edward West, My Rabble-Rousing 87-Year-Old Grandfather

Edward West Ellabel Duncan West Luanne West

Early on in the year, genealogist Amy Crow of No Story Too Small challenged all blogging genealogists to write about one ancestor per week for 52 weeks. This is my first entry in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.

I think it’s fitting that the first ancestor I blog about in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge is alive and well and – thanks to a little recent instigating – eating better than ever.

My grandpa, Edward West, is an interesting fellow for many reasons. His early adventures include:

  • Developing his snuff dipping habit at the tender age 7 after stealing the can from his mother’s apron at night
  • Breaking his arm riding a bull
  • Serving in Germany in WWII
  • Acting as a union representative at Lockheed, his place of work for many, many years (this comes into play later in this story)
Edward West Ellabel Duncan West Luanne West
Ellabel West, Luanne West (i.e. the cutest baby in the world) and Edward West, c. 1960

Adventures of a Nursing Home Rebel

But what I want to talk about today is his latter day adventures. Because he may be 87-years-old, but he hasn’t slowed down a bit. In fact, December 2013 was a banner month for my grandpa.

We might think that people who live in assisted living centers are in the twilight years of their life. Bingo, visiting on the porch, and craft activities rule the day and that’s about it, right?

But not for Papa. Despite having a perfectly good house, he CHOSE to live in the assisted living center. He says he likes hanging out with his childhood friends, Shorty and Leon. Plus, the nurses took really good care of my Granna for a long, long time during her decline from the cruel combination of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

…But that isn’t to say that Papa isn’t going to do a little rabble rousing if he has to.

Around Thanksgiving, we had the following conversation.

Papa: Jennifer, do you know how to type?

Me: Yes, Papa.

Papa: I want you to type me up a petition. The food here is no good. The cook in there can’t even boil an Irish potato.

We were both stung by the injustice of it all. Ninety folks in an assisted living center with very few teeth between them being forced to eat hard potatoes! This cannot stand!

So this is the petition we came up with:

We the residents of X in Canton, GA would like to request better quality food. We feel that the food we are currently served is not high quality, filling or well prepared. We request that management reviews the food buying and preparation processes and increases the quality of the food we receiving in the dining hall. 

Within a couple of days, he had walked, walkered and walking caned his way around the whole place, and about 1/3 of his fellow residents had signed the petition.

Today – 2 months later – the quality of the food has vastly improved and they get choices at every meal. That’s solidarity, my friends.

(It’s a good thing that the traits of stubbornness and inability to take no for an answer don’t run in this family….)

Local Celebrity Tells All

Look what else happened:

Edward West Cherokee Tribune Dec 7 2013
Article on the front page of the Cherokee Tribune, December 7, 2013. Article by Joshua Sharpe and photographs by Todd Hull.
Edward West Cherokee Tribune Dec 7 2013 p2
p. 2

Papa was also recently in the newspaper. You can read the story (about Pearl Harbor) for yourself, but I especially like the picture on the second page. That picture of my Granna, his wife for 61 years, sits on his bed every day while he’s awake and lies on the table by his side while he sleeps.

She was a beautiful woman, but it isn’t the most glamorous picture of her. It was taken right before she died, and she looks anxious. But it’s the picture he wants and, as I think we’ve already established by now, what my Papa wants, my Papa gets.


17 thoughts on “[52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks] Edward West, My Rabble-Rousing 87-Year-Old Grandfather”

  1. Enjoyed the article, and a look at some family stories. My Dad also served during WW II.This nation would not be what it is today without these brave men who served when their Nation needed them the most.

    • Thank YOU so much for the lovely compliment! There’s that old song “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy” anymore, and I could say that about my Papa. (And my Daddy, but he’s a story for another week.)

      And isn’t the header photo fabulous? It was taken in Forsyth County, GA around 1896 and is just lovely. It’s actually a small part of a larger photo. The other side of the family of another of the older man and woman’s children. I think we should all line up in front of the house and take photos more often! :p

  2. Great story Jennifer. I would love to meet your grandfather some day. He is a great addition to the West family tree.

    My grandfather was also named Edward West and my brother’s middle name is Edward. I believe he is the person whose DNA matched mine exactly on FTDNA and allowed us to meet online and share our genealogy information.

    • Hi Ron, I sure hope you get to meet him! He’d love to meet more family. He is the last of his brothers and sisters still living, and always gives a nice (very sweet) speech at our family reunions in – I think – May or June every year. There should be one coming up!

      I wonder if Edward is a family name, too?? We need to look for Edward. And yes! He’s the very one who’s DNA matched yours. That’s the closest match I’ve ever gotten with FTDNA. I’m so glad we met!!!

  3. Hi Jenn,
    Loved reading this! Perfect details about an obviously very special man.

    My family are Wests too. Appalachian Moutain region, primarily NC. Where are your Wests from? Let me know on FB messenger if you get a chance.

    Michelle Travis


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