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Malvern 'Buddy' West, longtime Etowah principal, dies at age 79

Malvern Smith "Buddy" West, longtime Etowah Elementary School principal, died Wednesday at age 79. Malvern Smith "Buddy" West, longtime Etowah Elementary School principal, died Wednesday at age 79.

Malvern Smith "Buddy" West, a native of Hendersonville and longtime principal of Etowah Elementary School, died Wednesday at the Carolina Village Medical Center after battling Parkinson’s disease for four years. He was 79.

West was born in Hendersonville at the Patton Memorial Hospital on March 20, 1941. He graduated in 1959 from his beloved Flat Rock High School, where he was so proud to have played on the basketball team. He could mentally “replay” many of the games and tell about them.

He graduated from Western Carolina College with both undergraduate (1962) and graduate (1969) degrees in elementary education and administration and supervision. He taught for eight years in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. Recruited by schools Superintendent Glenn Marlow, West came home for what was to be just a while. He fell in love with Henderson County as a young man and especially the Etowah community and stayed for the next 50 years. He served as principal of Etowah Elementary School for 26 years, from 1971 to 1997, giving up a central office job to take the Etowah post.

Malvern was a very generous man who loved to serve others and did so by serving with local organizations, including Salvation Army Board, Henderson County Education Foundation founding board and later served on its board, and Henderson County Retired School Personnel, where he served as its treasurer for 14 years.

In 2003 he served on the founding committee for the Henderson County Education Hall of Fame and was later inducted into that outstanding group of educators (in the 2006 class that also honored Coach Jim Pardue, Tom Orr, Hilda Olson, Dot Marlow, Hugh Lockaby and Tommy Wilson). He was proud to reveal that of the first 14 inductees to the Hall of Fame in 2003, he knew 13 of them personally. He was a loyal member of Hendersonville Kiwanis Club and attended every meeting as long as he was able. He was a lifetime member of the Elks Club.

He was a member of First United Methodist Church in Hendersonville and the Roy Johnson Sunday School Class, where he loved singing in the “Roy Johnson Choir.” He never met a stranger and had a wealth of knowledge of the history and people of Henderson County. He will be dearly missed by friends, family and all who knew him.

Malvern is survived by his wife of 55 years, Nancy Chastain West; children, Robert West (wife Laura), and Nancy Leigh Jones (husband Tom); grandchildren, Mollie Jones, Thomas Jones, Lena West and Lucy Jones; sister, Sarah Edmundson, nephew, Andy Edmundson, and niece Lynn Jackson. He was preceded in death by his father, Herbert Toy West, his mother, Rena Belle West, and brother, Joseph West.

The family thanked the staff of Carolina Village Medical Center for their compassion and excellent care. They also thanked Jack Romer and the employees at Economy Drugs for always welcoming him and being such good friends over many years.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to: Henderson County Education Foundation, P.O. Box 1267, Hendersonville, NC 28793; or to Four Seasons Foundation (or Four Seasons Hospice), 571 S. Allen Road, Flat Rock, NC 28731. A graveside service will take place at Shepherd’s Memorial Park at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 15, with the Rev. Christy Sharp officiating. Friends are invited to attend.