The Story of West's Mortuary, Inc.

Robert West was born in Macon County, GA on February 17, 1910 to Will & Bessie West. He was encouraged to dream and was taught basic survival skills by his landowning farming family. He pursued his goal to become a businessman striving towards independence and freedom. Soon after completing his schooling and graduating from college in 1933 (Fort Valley State College and two years at Tuskegee Institute), he moved to Macon, GA and became an insurance agent. While selling insurance, he would often stop by Central City Funeral Home to "chat with the fellas". Frequently, the boss of the funeral home would ask him to answer the phone and go on death calls (pick up bodies) with the other employees. He was soon hired and worked there for two years.

Mr. Robert West returned to Montezuma and joined Robert Johnson and Hal Hunt, who owned People's Funeral Home. In 1935, West bought Mr. Hunt out of the business and the name of the funeral home changed to Johnson and West Funeral Home. In 1942, Mr. West attended and graduated from the Atlanta College of Mortuary Science. With plans to enlist in the U.S. Army in 1943, he sold out to Robert Johnson.

He returned after two years of military service and again went into business with Mr. Robert Johnson. After a year, he was able to become an independent businessman and purchased the business from Mr. Johnson who went into retirement.

The present day West's Mortuary at 325 Drayton Street Montezuma remains on land purchased in 1949. Drayton Street is located one street west of GA highway 49 in the city limits. It borders a historically Black district. Throughout the years, the West's Mortuary porch was a welcomed spot that served as a nucleus for information exchange and community support.

After marrying Miss Thelma Walker in 1956, he and Mrs. West were in partnership; creating a lovely family; engaging in business, civic and religious affairs. In 1983, a decision was made to expand the business to better serve the surrounding communities. Mr. West purchased the Smith Funeral Home in Americus, GA and the name was changed to Smith-West Mortuary. In 1995 the name was changed again to West’s Mortuary.

Mr. West was a funeral director, embalmer, Deacon at New Hope Baptist Church, Mason, Eastern Star, and a dedicated member of the Georgia Funeral Service Practitioners Association, Inc.

Both Robert and Thelma West lived to see their children Robert Eric and Thelma Denise become adults, graduate from college and train in the funeral profession. The family enjoyed moments of travel, music, work and play. They worshipped together at New Hope Baptist Church and shared in the arts and music. On May 31, 1992, our family suffered a terrible loss when Mrs. Thelma West went home to be with our Lord and on February 27, 2005 Mr. Robert West joined her in Heaven. Our tradition continues as we strive to offer the best of death care service as:

"A Family Serving Families."

Please click here to read a Eulogy written by family friend, Jay Larry.