John C. West

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John C. West
John C. West.jpg
14th United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia
In office
June 8, 1977 – March 21, 1981
President Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
Preceded by William J. Porter
Succeeded by Robert Gerhard Neumann
109th Governor of South Carolina
In office
January 19, 1971 – January 21, 1975
Lieutenant Earle Morris, Jr.
Preceded by Robert Evander McNair
Succeeded by James B. Edwards
80th Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina
In office
January 17, 1967 – January 19, 1971
Governor Robert Evander McNair
Preceded by Robert Evander McNair
Succeeded by Earle Morris, Jr.
Member of the South Carolina Senate from Kershaw County
In office
January 11, 1955 – January 10, 1967
Preceded by James Clator Arrants
Succeeded by District abolished
Personal details
Born John Carl West
(1922-08-27)August 27, 1922
Camden, South Carolina
Died March 21, 2004(2004-03-21) (aged 81)
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lois Rhame West (married 1942-2004, his death)
Children Shelton, Douglas, and John C. West, Jr.
Alma mater University of South Carolina
Profession Attorney
Religion Episcopalian
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Rank Military intelligence officer, stateside in World War II

John Carl West, Sr. (August 27, 1922 – March 21, 2004), was a U.S. Democratic Party politician who served as the 109th Governor of South Carolina from 1971 to 1975. He served as ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1977 to 1981.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Camden, South Carolina and grew up in the Kershaw County, South Carolina farming community of Charlotte Thompson. The following May, his father, along with seventy-six other persons, was killed in a fire at the nearby Cleveland School. His mother and maternal grandmother escaped unharmed from the fire. In 1942, he married his childhood sweetheart, Lois Rhame. The couple had three children, a daughter and two sons, Shelton, Douglas, and John, Jr. [1] That same year, he graduated from The Citadel, and was enlisted in the United States Army as an intelligence officer during World War II, assigned to stateside service.

Political career[edit]

Following the war, he earned a law degree from the University of South Carolina in 1946. From 1948 to 1952, he served on the state Highway Commission. In 1954, he coordinated the unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidacy of Edgar A. Brown, who lost in a write-in campaign waged by former Governor Strom Thurmond, then a Democrat but in 1964 a defector to the Republican Party.

From 1955 to 1967, West served in the state senate. He was assigned to several committees which studied public school curriculum, investigated activities of the Communist Party of the United States of America, monitored the state Development Board, examined state support for the nursing profession and junior colleges, and recommended revisions to the state constitution.

West was the 80th Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina, having served from 1967 to 1971. In the 1970 gubernatorial election, West with 53.2 percent of the vote defeated U.S. Representative Albert W. Watson, a Democrat-turned-Republican, who drew 45.9 percent of the ballots cast. A former state legislator, Alfred W. Bethea of Dillon, polled 2 percent of the vote as the nominee of George Wallace's former American Independent Party. West's running-mate for lieutenant governor, Earle Morris, Jr., of Pickens, South Carolina defeated Watson's running mate, advertising executive James M. Henderson of Greenville by about the same percent of the vote as West had prevailed over Watson.

After his tenure as governor, West returned to private law practice and was subsequently appointed United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, a position that he held from 1977 to 1981. After returning to the United States, he became a Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of South Carolina. From 1993 until his death from cancer, he was a partner in the Hilton Head law office of Bethea, Jordan, and Griffin.


  1. ^ Former SC first lady remembered for championing causes
Political offices
Preceded by
Robert Evander McNair
Governor of South Carolina
Succeeded by
James B. Edwards