Oneida businessman Roger E. West died at his home Saturday evening following a recent illness. He was 83.
West was best known for the coal company that he founded with his father-in-law, Hubert Baldwin. West Coal Corporation was at one time Tennessee’s largest coal producer, with mines in both Tennessee and Kentucky.
West was born Aug. 17, 1937 to William E. “Champ” West and Wilma Sexton West, and was one of six children. His father was a career educator who worked for both the Oneida and Scott County school systems.
It was in 1958, at the age of 21, that West began working alongside his future father-in-law in the coal industry. Later, his brother-in-law, future Oneida Mayor Jack E. Lay, would join the company.
At its peak, West Coal and its subsidiaries employed 1,000 people. The company’s last deep mine closed in 1991, and the last strip mining operation closed in 1995.
West was also involved in several other business ventures over the years. The family — including his brothers — established Denim Processing in Oneida, and his sons continue to hold executive leadership roles with Knoxville-based Jewelry Television. West was heavily involved in Bethlehem Baptist Church, where he served as a deacon and his wife is organist.
“To know him was to love him,” West’s granddaughter, Chaya Rose, posted in a Facebook tribute Saturday night. “He never met a stranger, and if you were a stranger, you wouldn’t be one for long.”
West “loved Jesus, his family, and his community,” his grandson, Dallas West, said. “He taught me everything I know and as my cousin said, he did more for me than anyone else had ever done and I didn’t deserve any of it, but that is love. There will never be another person to impact my life as he has and a part of my heart has left me.”
West is survived by his wife, Rose West, and three children: sons Roger Gregory West and Chris West and daughter Miche Rose. Grandchildren include Matthew West, Tyler West, Stacia West, Dylan West, Pyper West, Dannon West, Lucas West, Dallas West, Mallory Delk, Chaya Rose and Bristol Rose.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.
This is a partial story that will be updated.