|George Edgar "Buddy" West|
|Texas State Representative from District 81 (Andrews, Ector, and Winkler counties)|
January 1993 – June 25, 2008
|Preceded by||Gary Watkins (in District 75)|
|Succeeded by||Tryon D. Lewis|
|Trustee of the Ector County Independent School District|
October 9, 1936|
|Died||June 25, 2008
Odessa, Ector County
|Cause of death||Renal and lung failure|
|Resting place||Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas|
|Spouse(s)||Shirley Jean Porter West (married 1956–2008, his death)|
Richie L. West
|Alma mater||University of Texas of the Permian Basin|
|Occupation||Safety engineer; Businessman|
George Edgar West (October 9, 1936 – June 25, 2008), known as Buddy West, was a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives from Odessa, Texas, who was known for his staunch support of his hometown University of Texas of the Permian Basin. West served nearly sixteen years as state representative from District 81, which now encompasses Ector, Andrews, and Winkler counties, a tenure longer than anyone else in the history of the district. His term was scheduled to end on December 31, 2008.
Early years and education
West moved to Odessa in 1944, when he was seven years of age. He graduated from Odessa High School, attended the two-year Odessa College and two Baptist-affiliated institutions, Howard Payne University in Brownwood, and Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in business management from UT-Permian Basin, which opened in 1973. West was a member of the first UTPB graduating class; at the 25th anniversary ceremony, West said that he could not have completed his degree had UTPB not then come into being.
West worked for three decades for Amoco as a corporate safety engineer. Prior to his legislative elections, he was a trustee of the Ector County Independent School District, a nonpartisan position.
West convinced fellow legislators to fund the 14,000 square-foot University of Texas of the Permian Basin Presidential Museum and Leadership Library, which opened on the UTPB campus in Odessa in 2002-2003. The museum houses exhibits and information about American presidents. West once said that the museum was born in a time of tragedy – the assassination in Dallas of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
West lobbied for the funding of a performing arts center and a new student services building at UTPB. In 2007, he authored House Bill 2289, which would have given school police officers retirement and health insurance benefits under the state teacher retirement system. However, the legislative session ended without passage of the bill.
In 2003, West helped to gain appropriations for a new Odessa-Midland National Guard Armory near Midland International Airport. He was chairman of the House Committee on Energy Resources and the legislative point man on energy policies.
In 1999, West clashed with fellow Republican and future Speaker Tom Craddick of Midland regarding state funding for county hospitals. West killed a $3 million appropriation destined for a hospital in Midland. An irate Craddick called a press conference to denounce his colleague. Craddick wanted to channel the funds through the Texas Department of Health. The appropriation had been inserted without comment in a conference committee. West noted the item and convinced two other conferees to join him in killing it. The action did not benefit West's Odessa but strained relations with Midland's Craddick.
West was also known for his opposition to chaining dogs. He maintained that chaining is inherently cruel to the dogs and endangers human beings because chained animals are exceptionally aggressive. "Chaining" means tying up the dog to an object such as a tree, a stake, or a parking meter. West’s anti-chaining bill contained a section stating that a dangerous dog should be tied up no longer than is necessary to protect the safety of human beings. As passed, however, the law prohibits the restraint of a dog to a permanent object at night, or in bad weather conditions, or within 500 feet of a school.
West was initially nominated for state representative in the Republican primary held on March 10, 1992. He defeated W. J. "Jay" Poynor, Sr., 5,297 (53.7 percent) to 4,563 (46.3 percent). In the November 3 general election, West in reconfigured District 81, defeated the Democrat Betsy Ann Triplet-Hurt, 19,482 (54.3 percent) to 16,4014 (45.7 percent). West's Democratic predecessor in District 75, Gary Watkins, who had represented Ector County, did not seek reelection in 1992, and Triplet-Hurt was unopposed for her party nomination. In the 2004 general election, West defeated the Democrat Arlo Chavira (born January 1, 1977) of Odessa, 31,288 (75.1 percent) to 10,379 (24.9 percent). In his last successful general election in 2006, West defeated Billy Grimes, nominee of the Libertarian Party, 16,187 (84.8 percent) to 2,907 (15.2 percent).
West was unseated in the Republican primary held on March 4 by Tryon D. Lewis, an Odessa attorney and a former judge of the Texas 161st District Court in Odessa. In the primary, Lewis led West, 5,273 (44 percent) to 4,602 (38.4 percent). Two other candidates held the remaining 17.6 percent of the vote. In the lower-turnout April 8 runoff election, West's standing collapsed, and Lewis prevailed, 5,181 (76 percent) to 1,637 (24 percent). Lewis, supported in the primary by then Speaker Tom Craddick, was unopposed in the November 4 general election.
West’s death and legacy
West collapsed in an Odessa restaurant on May 29, 2008. He had already suffered from kidney failure and had begun dialysis treatment in December 2007. On his collapse, he was unconscious and placed on a respirator He died in an Odessa hospice less than a month after the collapse.
In West’s honor, Governor Rick Perry ordered the lowering of flags in the state capitol complex in Austin on the days of his death and his interment at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. Perry said that the state "lost a great public servant when Buddy West passed away... a dedicated champion for the people of West Texas, Buddy's legacy will live on in the lives of those he touched...."
At the burial service attended by some two hundred mourners, Perry said that if a film of the "history of West Texas [were made], I think Buddy West would have been the perfect character in that movie to play the lead role. He not only looked the part, he lived the part."
Speaker Craddick said that he would remember his sometimes intraparty rival for West's smile on the House floor and how he looked after his constituents: "Buddy had an interesting attitude; it was his friends, it wasn't [just] somebody he was representing."
Services were held on June 27, 2008, at the First Baptist Church of Odessa. West was survived by his wife, the former Shirley Jean Porter (born July 10, 1937), his son Richie, his two daughters, Lori West Bennington and Ami Sabrina West Satterwhite, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
U.S. Representative Mike Conaway of Midland described West as "a good guy and a longtime friend.... He was passionate about West Texas and the work that he did.... His legacy as a Texas legislator will serve as an example to Texas lawmakers for years to come."
Community activist Vickie Gomez, also a West pallbearer, said that though West was Republican by affiliation "I don't think people will ever realize just the effect he had.... He truly was able to work with both parties.... He didn't see party when it came to getting something done...."
UTPB President David Watts said that West was such a supporter of the university that "you didn't even have to ask Buddy to do things for UTPB; he just did it."
- "Buddy West passes away". Odessa American Online. June 25, 2008. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
- Project Vote Smart - Representative George E. 'Buddy' West - Biography Archived May 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Random Political and Legislative Notes". Texas Weekly. 31 May 1999. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
- "DOG BITE LAW - Texas". dogbitelaw.com. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
- "Lawmaker Buddy West in critical condition". mywesttexas.com. May 30, 2008. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
- "Statement by Gov. Rick Perry on the Death of Rep. G. E. "Buddy" West". Office of the Governor Rick Perry. June 25, 2008. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
- "About 200 attend state funeral of Rep. Buddy West". Houston Chronicle. June 28, 2008. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
Gary Watkins (District 75)
|Texas State Representative from District 81 (Andrews, Ector, and Winkler counties)
George E. "Buddy" West of Odessa
Tryon D. Lewis