On Saturday, December 29, 2018, Jack Donald West, loving father and husband, passed away peacefully at the age of 87, surrounded by family and friends.
Jack was born on July 31, 1931 in Carbon Hill, AL, to Phillip and Verna West. He married his high school sweetheart, Joyce Geraldine Key, in February, 1952. They were married for 62 years, until Geri preceded Jack in death in March 2014.
Only four months after they married, Jack was summoned into the US Army, proudly serving his country, but was wounded in combat in the Korean War. He returned home to Geri in July 1954, and began working as an apprentice watchmaker. He obtained the stringent Master Watchmaker and Master Chronograph Technician certifications, one of less than 100 in the US at the time. In 1957, Vandegriff Jewelers recruited Jack as their Rolex technician, and he and Geri moved to Ft. Walton, raising two sons, Brad and Stan.
While perfecting his watchmaking skills at Vandegriff’s, he studied to become a Graduate Gemologist and Certified Diamond Appraiser. He was then recruited by Sear’s in 1963 as a watchmaker and diamond appraiser. When asked to run the prestigious Sear’s diamond vault in New York, he turned down the offer, saying, “A country boy doesn’t belong in New York.”
In the late 1970's, Jack decided it was time to go out on his own, opening Jack West Jewelers in Ft. Walton. It turned out to be a good move. Well-loved, respected and his work highly sought after, his expertise and fair business practices had old and new customers alike flocking to his door. For the next 24 years, getting your timepieces serviced or buying jewelry from Jack was a rite of passage for many in the Southeast.
Jack retired the storefront at the end of 2000, but continued to service special friends and clients out of the shop at his house. During the next 10 years, he enjoyed attending trade shows and buying and selling pocket watches and other timepieces.
Jack is survived by his sons Brad West (Yvonne) and Stan West (Lisa), grandchildren Brandon West and Marisa West-DeLoach, two great-grandchildren, several nieces and nephews, and his faithful cat, Nellie.
A funeral service will be held on Saturday, January 12th, 2019 at McLaughlin Mortuary in Ft. Walton Beach at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Alzheimer’s Association. https://alz.org.
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