Covering the Land of Lincoln

George Edward ‘Jim’ West and Phyllis Carol (Welker) West

George Edward (Jim) West, at the age of 90 years old and of Olathe, Kansas, died on Oct. 26, 2020, in Shawnee, Kansas. His widow, Phyllis Carol (Welker) West, of Overland Park, Kansas, died on July 14, 2022 at the age of 85.

“Jim” was born on Feb. 11, 1930, in Carmi, Illinois, the only child of Delbert (Jimmy) Ray, and Ada Belle (Henson) Ray.

Phyllis was born on Jan. 27, 1937, in Elkhart, Illinois, the daughter of John A. and Edna (Patterson) Welker.

George attended public schools in Chicago, graduating from Lane Technical High School in 1948. He took the last name of his stepfather, Willard Webb West, in 1945. George served in the US Navy as an aviation electrician and instrument specialist — he was part of the Berlin Airlift (1948-49) and was in the Korean conflict from 1948 to 1952. He was assigned to the Air Transport Squadron VR3. His final duty station was at Moffet Field in Sunnyvale, California.

Upon his honorable discharge, George went to work for Illinois Commercial Telephone Company, which later became the General Telephone Company (GTE) and eventually became Verizon. He began his career as a telephone installer and ended his career in December 1988 as the Project Manager for Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois.

George held positions of equipment installer, Eastern and Southern Division Equipment Supervisor and Division Traffic Manager in Jacksonville, Illinois and Marion, Illinois; District Plant Supervisor, and Switching Services Supervisor in Bloomington, Illinois; and finally was the Head Project Coordinator at SIU. Altogether he served the telephone communications industry for 36 years.

On June 30, 1957, he married Phyllis Carol Welker of Springfield, Illinois. They had two sons, Jeff, who resides in Springfield, Illinois and Jim, who resides in Olathe, Kansas with his wife Deborah, and sons Jacob and Michael.

Phyllis attended Oak Hill Grade School and graduated from Riverton (Illinois) High School in 1955. Right after graduation, she went to work as a secretary for the General Telephone Company of Illinois for three years. Phyllis was a stay-at-home mom from 1958 until 1977, raising their sons Jeff and Jim. She then went back to work for General Telephone, by that time called GTE. Phyllis was executive secretary to the Southern Division Manager, Loren D. Carter, at Marion until 1990, when she retired.

At that time, she and George moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they lived for 10 years before moving to Wellton, Arizona, where they lived for five. Their final move was to Olathe, Kansas, where they lived for 10 years.

Preceding them in death are George’s father, Delbert Ray; his mother, Ada Belle (Henson) West; his stepfather, Willard (Slim) West; and his half-sisters, Phyllis (Ray) Clark of McLeansboro, Illinois and Barbara (Ray) Collinson of Libby, Montana.

They are also survived by Phyllis’s two brothers, John Welker of Springfield and Dennis (Nancy) Welker, now residing in Colorado. She also has two nephews, one niece, and two great-nephews.

A joint memorial ceremony for George and Phyllis will begin at 9 am on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, at Butler Funeral Home-Springfield. Burial will follow at Roselawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Springfield.

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