“Pillar of the Community”
Paul West was born in 1924 and grew up in Bridgewater, Vermont. He had five siblings, and his mother raised all six children on her own after Paul’s father was killed in a trucking accident.
After graduating from Woodstock High School in 1943, Paul immediately enlisted in the service. From 1943 to 1946, he served in the Army’s 843rd AAA outfit in England, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia. His duties in the infantry and hauling large artillery often brought him close to the action - so close that in one battle he was hit in the head with a bayonet. He received not only numerous campaign ribbons for his service, but a Bronze Star for Conduct Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.
After the War, Paul returned to the Woodstock area, where he was known for the many “hats” he wore. He was a constable, school bus driver, snow plow operator, delinquent tax collector, truant officer, dog catcher, owner and operator of Highland Boarding Kennels, co-owner of the local Chrysler-Plymouth dealership, and a serious equestrian and dog handler who showed animals all over the country. What distinguishes Paul, though, are not his many varied jobs, or even the many awards and honors that he received over the years, but the way he lived his life. He never raised his voice. He didn’t have to. When Paul spoke, in his quiet way, everyone else stopped talking and listened. Paul’s quiet talks were legendary. Phil Swanson, Woodstock’s Town Manager, noted that Paul was able to get results without writing tickets. Although he added, “Some people would rather have a ticket than a 15-minute talking-to by Paul.”
In addition to being known for his soft-spoken ways, Paul was venerated for being a tireless worker. As Windsor County Sheriff Mike Chamberlain related, no matter how late it was or whether Paul had already put in a full day’s work, Paul was still willing to help. Chamberlain shared the story of being outside putting in a new lawn. As Paul drove by, Paul tooted his horn. Although he had been working all day, ten minutes later, Paul was back with his lawn equipment ready to help out.
Nor did Paul’s busy schedule stop him from looking after his family. When his mother was alive, Paul would drop by every single day to visit her and see if she needed anything. He held the same devotion to his son and seven daughters. His son, Paul D. West, recalled that the only time his dad would take a break from work was to be with family. He states: “For this he’d always make time... His children came first before all and he’d do anything for them. We were all expected to work and help out, and he taught us the value of a hard-earned dollar, but when it came to generosity, he gave all that he had and then some. He didn’t drink or smoke, but preferred a can of Coke and a Hershey bar. When he was fighting in the war, he’d trade his cigarette rations for extra chocolate. He loved to dance, and from what I’ve been told, he was pretty darn good at it... He was kind, caring, supportive, hard working, and unselfish. I was lucky to have such a dad, though he left shoes that I would never be able to fill.”
Paul passed away on December 9, 2009, at the age of 85. As Coach Chuck Worrell noted prophetically when Paul was being honored in 2008, people hardly knew that Paul was around until he wasn’t, “and then the void was too enormous to describe.”