By Yoav Gilad, Corvette Forum Editor
Don West was best known at Corvetteforum.com as “Torch” a
moniker he picked up because of his love for two of his conveyances a Torch
Red ’98 Corvette coupe and his airplane, a bright red Piper Super Cub dubbed
Donald Dale West, 60, passed away silently in his sleep on
March 2. He was married and had two children, but was loved by many
people, most of whom had never met him. Indeed, Don (Torch) was an immensely
popular Corvetteforum moderator who always had a story or photos to share about
his hunting, fishing and flying adventures in the Alaskan wilderness.
When news of his passing spread online, hundreds of people,
most who had never met him in person, expressed their condolences to his widow
Debra. Seeking to recognize his contributions and honor his memory,
friends on Corvetteforum immediately began an online thread to raise funds for
a memorial bench to be installed as a tribute at the National Corvette Museum
in Bowling Green, KY.The bench was fully funded quickly with people
donating according to their ability. One forum member, Jim Holmes
(BuckyThreadKiller), donated his time and talent to design beautiful custom
artwork to be engraved on the granite memorial bench as he has done on several
previous memorial benches for Corvetteforum members.
In addition to donating time and money, forum members shared
stories about Don. One person recounted how Torch helped encourage and
support others when they were considering joining the U.S. Air Force, the
branch of service from which Don retired before pursuing a career as an air
traffic controller and flight instructor in Alaska.
Others, such as Jodi Martin (Yamahajo), recounted a trip to
Alaska to visit Don and take him up on his standing offer to give any
Corvetteforum members a ride in Torch II. Jodi said she remembers
“hanging on and grinning ear to ear as we weaved through the trees above the
heads of the moose below” and then stopping for a beer in the sunlight at 3
a.m. during an Alaska summer. But perhaps John Hall (Silverback51) said
it best: “It’s amazing how the passing of a man that most never met in
person has affected so many. That right there says a lot about the gentleman.”
Rest in peace, Don. We lost you much too soon. If you’d like to learn more about Don or the fundraising effort, click here.