John H. West Jr., 90, ran heating business

August 01, 2005

John H. West Jr., a World War II veteran who spent two decades at the helm of his family's home heating business, Enterprise Fuel Co., died of complications from old age Tuesday at St. Joseph Medical Center. The Lutherville resident was 90.

Born in Baltimore, Mr. West was a 1932 graduate of the Gilman School and a 1936 graduate of Princeton University.

He spent nine months traveling the world after his graduation, visiting Europe, Africa, India and the Far East before returning home and joining Enterprise Fuel, a business his father had started, according to his family.

His decades-long employment there was interrupted for three years in the 1940s when he worked as a Navy communications officer aboard two minesweepers during World War II, his family said.

In the early 1960s, Mr. West became chief executive officer of Enterprise Fuel, a job he held until the company was sold in the 1980s, his family said.

Although Mr. West, an avid reader, studied political science in college, he always wished he had majored in English, said his son, John H. West III of Baltimore. He was known for quoting the English poet A.E. Housman and enjoyed reading works by W. Somerset Maugham and Herman Wouk, his son said.

He also belonged to several organizations and headed the boards of Keswick Multi-Care Center and of the Friendly Inn Association of Baltimore City, a charitable foundation, his family said.

"For me and my three sisters, he was our greatest teacher," his son said. "He was a self-effacing, very quiet, very humble man."

He and his wife of 66 years, the former Jeanne Harrison, traveled extensively. Mr. West also enjoyed playing golf, his family said.

The couple lived in Green Spring Valley for several decades before moving to Brightwood retirement community in Lutherville.

Services were Saturday.

In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by three daughters, Jeanne West Riggs of Nantucket, Mass., Mary Harrison West Neblett of Baltimore and Anne Wynne West Katzman of Wilmette, Ill.; 11 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by a grandchild in 1991.

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