Lawrence (Larry) William West, age 78, of Columbia, Missouri, died on March 30, 2022, at home with his wife, daughter, and dog by his side, after a short and valiant battle with acute myeloid leukemia.
Larry was born on August 14, 1943, to William West and Evelyn West in Lebanon, Missouri. He and his wife, Janie, who met in high school, wed in1964 and have one daughter, Julie.
After graduating with honors from Lebanon High School in 1961, he attended Missouri School of Mines before receiving a degree in mathematics from Southwest Missouri State, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Kansas.
In 1967 Larry taught himself to program when computers were in their infancy after beginning to work in the computer center at Southwest Missouri State. Having found a vocation he loved that utilized his innate mathematical and problem solving abilities, he worked at SMS full time while he completed his degree. Simultaneously, he encouraged and supported his wife when she earned her degree, while also being an attentive father to his daughter.
Larry went to graduate school at the University of Kansas where he was a graduate assistant and worked for a time in administrative computing. He then taught at the School of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri, and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, before being hired by Columbia College in 1996. During his tenure there, he served as Chair of the Computer and Mathematical Sciences Department and became the first Columbia College professor to receive a Governor’s Award for Teaching Excellence. When he retired in 2010, he was bestowed the honor of Professor Emeritus. He was an excellent teacher who loved every minute he spent in the classroom and was thrilled to learn of the successes of former students.
An inherently modest man, Larry would be humbled by comments from various students and colleagues who admired his teaching talents, wonderful sense of humor, leadership abilities, honesty, generosity, and consummate professionalism. One student said that Dr. West had the ability to make people want to learn, and a former colleague identified him as one of the finest men he had ever known, brilliant, and one of a kind.
Larry had many interests over the years and was a life-long learner. In addition to earning his private pilot’s license and taking piano lessons as an adult, he enjoyed fishing, stamp collecting, sailing, photography, biking, jogging, gaming, and was an excellent cook. He was a talented woodworker and an avid fan of the KC Chiefs and Kansas Jayhawks. He loved all animals and helped charities that supported their needs.
He was predeceased by his mother and father as well as a close friend, Tom. He is survived by Janie, his wife of almost 58 years; his daughter, Julie Edwards (Rob); his grandson, Jack, who was one of his greatest pleasures in life; and his loyal dog, Hubble. Other survivors include his wife’s sister, Faye; other relatives by marriage; and special friends, Dan, Mike, David, and Paul, who were more like brothers to him.
In lieu of memorial contributions, Larry, who felt he lived a wonderful life, would want to be remembered joyfully.
A celebration of life is pending.
Condolences and memories may be left at heartlandcremation.com/obituary/
Posted online on April 08, 2022
Published in Columbia Daily Tribune