In Memoriam

Mike West


Mike West was born on February 21, 1951 and passed away on January 28, 2021.


Below: Mike, top left,  with the RHS track team in 1968.

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01/28/21 11:27 PM #1    

Lowell Tuttle

I am not sure there has been another friendship like the one I had with Mike West.  We began knowing each other in the 7th grade at Belt Line Jr hi.   In those days, my close contact with him was hanging out with some of my friends and his friends as we waited “post” lunch in the unfinished courtyard behind C wing.  Mike and Hank Dubey, and Sam Duncan and some other guys from the Dover crowd liked to eat cinnamon buns in one bite, throw pennies, nickels and quarters against the C wing wall and fight to get them.  

Football games...(Mike was on the team a few years) school dances, Mike was also in The Key Club.  His Dover friends from before my time were Ronnie Parker, Keith Currens, Hank Dubey, Jim Madden and that crowd.

Later in school days, we raced through typing together and were in journalism class together. 

Mike and I attended a journalism class symposium at SMU in 1968, were stopped from entering Moody Coliseum to see Nixon because Mike was wearing a Eugene McCarthy button on his lapel.   We/he was allowed in if he removed it.

As we got older and got our driver licenses, it was also about the time we started going to rock concerts together as well as the opening of the Burning Bush.   Friday and Saturday nights there…chasing girls who frequented the place.  I was a “designated” driver for everyone in those days.   Keeping a clean healthy condition behind what would have been a crazy wheel.  Most of our trips then, were to the bowling alley and Love Field for pin ball, or to Kips for hot fudge sundaes.

Mike and Rusty Shields were the stockers for your Tom Thumb on Arapaho at Newberry for years and had quite a group of smokin poker playin all night stocker dudes.   Breaks were taken at the pin ball machine while munching Hamburger Hut fries and sandwiches.  Two pretty good machines.

I tried my hand for a few days as a cross country runner, with Mike and others on the cross country team.   I quit about my third day.   Mike was in it with Sam Duncan, Chuck Kourvales, Jim Litner, Johnny Powell, Lee Klepper, and Randy Rost.   Their workout each day was running 2-5 mile routes around Richardson.   Remember seeing those fools in their gear running?  We had some great cross country competitors…starting back in the Tommy Maupin days years before.

As high school came to an end, we toured to pick a college.  He and I drove down to Georgetown to check out Southwestern, but we went past on down to UT because Southwestern was basically closed.  I chose UT and Mike went with our good friend Dennis Matthews off to Univ of Houston.

Just between getting settled in at Austin/Houston, we got together Labor Day Weekend 1969 for the Texas International Pop Festival at Lewisville, Texas…camping out three days, seeing the likes of Chicago, Freddie King, Spirit, Janis Joplin, Ten Years After, Led Zeppelin, Sly and the Family Stone, BB King, Grand Funk, and living for those few days in the Peace Love generation that in a way molded us for the future….assuming we didn’t take everything too seriously…

Mike and Dennis lived in a crazy dorm, the Hedges House, off Macgregor. I remember a resident friend of Mike and Dennis’ who had the entire Frank Zappa Mother’s of Invention collection and stayed in his room permanently in his pajamas.  It was college in 1969 at 18 years old.  I drove and bused from Austin a few times to hook up with those guys, give a send off to Larry Benson/Dobbins, going into the service, and head down to Surfside for some rather bad attempts at surfing the Gulf Coast.   We visited the Cellar, and Love Street…then Mike got married in Dickinson, to Claire, a real beauty.  Post wedding, our Dallas group headed off to Jimi Hendrix in the Houston coliseum,  and it was just a few times together after until that went south.

End of Claire (wife.) Then…for a while, us both at our parents…but..

In 73, we decided to rent a house in Oak Lawn in Dallas.   Our friends all gathered.  It was at the corner of Holland and Douglas.  Making that place livable was crazy.  The rooms were all painted psychedelic colors and had locks or several locks on both sides of each of the two or three bedrooms…obviously had been a den of iniquity.  David Savage moved in with us and built his own indoor treehouse.  Our gatherings in those days took us to The Cave, The Leatherballs Saloon, J Alfreds, Strictly Taboo, The Cedar Pub, and in or over by my office building, the Playboy Club and of course Mother Blues.  I moved out mainly because of the slow draining tub/shower stuffed with our hippie hair, but that six or eight month life and style sticks in my Mike West memory.   During this time was the story of David Savage, our roommate, building a TeePee, and building a greenhouse.   Without anything substantial to grow in our outside treehouse, David drove his van off to Nacogdoches, filled up two plastic garbage bags with cow manure of varying stages of ripeness, and brought them back to his fresh greenhouse in the hopes of growing some psychedelic mushrooms (complete failure…)  those are a country thing, not City.

Pam Rodreick, Randy Ferguson, Guy Nichols, Joann Fletcher (future West,) David Savage, Dennis Matthews, a bit of Pam Russell…and my UT friends David Mckamie among others were all participants.

Mike had begun the oil field service side business job with Tackaberry Fire & Safety.   Driving his 70 MGB GT around town after first marriage over.   Mike and his co worker, Robert (Rieger?) ran the Dallas office of Tackaberry over in a warehouse off Harry Hines behind the Dallas Market Hall area.   There were no office workers, just those two and all the fire extinguishers.   Going to his office and meeting for lunch or happy hour included a run of Dallas Industrial Hockey on their in warehouse hockey/floor rink.   Lunch was at The Double Nickel and happy hour was at the Busy Bee where they had ladies dancing, but it was real burlesque and they still had comedians in between the dances. 

During the 73 to 78 period, a central figure was Joann Fletcher who Mike had an on and off romance with.  She was central to our little group of friends that ran around together in Oak Lawn.

Mike and I were roommates again in my rent house from 76 to 78 on Boundbrook over off Stults road and Forest Lane.  We had some parties there with still some of the Oak Lawn crowd.   Even our parents and my Aunt Dorothy were entertained one Christmas.   Perhaps even Mike’s Aunt Jenny?  Becky and John West (Mike’s parents) were agog of their sons  Mike, Randy, and Tim.   He is purportedly related to both Richard Nixon and Jessamine West (author.)  Parents were not usually at our normal affairs.  The would have freaked at the 8mm film projector set up in the middle bedroom for all voyeur friends.  Nextdoor neighbor Richard Cooper joined Mike and I for some escapades.   Good times with him together.  Richard was famous for leaving the name Staubach with hosts at waiting stands in restaurants.   Mike and I met Richard (and his girlfriend) who rented next door to us.   From Michigan, they were in the back yard sunbathing one day.   They turned on their sides, raising their arm up and stayed that way a while, then, flipped to their other side and raised their arm.  We laughed at them and went over and introduced…pretty good friendship developed then.   It was the disco years.

Well, the Boundbrook arrangement ended as I moved off to Houston in 78…Before I moved, Tackaberry decided to move Mike as salesman to Houston, so a month after my move there, we found an apartment and started a whole new scene there in H town…

My office was in Greenway Plaza off 59 and Mike’s was in Sugarland off 59, but further South.   I hated the traffic, so ended up hanging out at Rudyard’s while Mike had his own little society there,in SW Houston...  But, the romance with Joann crescendo’d then with his proposal, so I moved out and Joann moved down to Houston finding a job with Weekly and Penny’s ad agency. 

We had a pretty good bachelor’s party this wedding.   Mike, Lowell, and Richard Cooper, meeting in San Antonio and driving off to Nuevo Laredo, bus to boys town, excellent evening for all of us.  

Mike’s early Houston friends were Liz (last name?) Dick Gil,  Robert Espinoza, Alan Bull, and his NFL six club of football fantasy….My Rudyard’s escapades included friendship with Mike Holliday who later opened the Richmond Arms (had been Daddy Boots) at Richmond and Fountainview.   Later he opened the Ale House on Alabama.

I moved from our apartments to a rent house on Mid Lane off Richmond and Mike and Joann actually found a house with the same landlord at 7 Bash Place…Later moving over to a duplex on Winsome off Fountainview.  Living inside the loop in Houston is for millionaires now, and folks who don’t mind renting an efficiency for 2000 a month.

There was quite a big downturn in the oilfield in the 80’s which set up Mike to come to work with me at AA USA Insurance Agency as Mr. Fred Jones (hysterical mystery name for answering phone calls.)  Friendships also were made with many by Mike as door man working the Ale House on Fridays and some Saturdays in the Houston Music scene. 

I played a lot of darts and traveled quite a bit to tournaments….but eventually, Mike and I were on an HDA darts team together out of the Ale House about the time he started covering the door.  We befriended Steve Knapp (who was our bartender extraordinaire) and another group of friends involving both of us and Joann began.  Betty and her boyfriend David (rip) along with Angela and Marion.  Mindy.  Plus there was quite a mix of darters, late night Houston musicians, Montrose area drinkers and urban animals, and some rather funky inner loop Houstonians who loved the Ale House scene.

Everyone who came to work for my and my dad’s agency learned a specialty way of handling “deals” for customers on auto insurance with our no one refused attitude.  From very good to very bad risks and customers.   Eventually employees all became over valued and too expensive for us to keep.   It’s hard letting good folks go, but we couldn’t afford Mike in Houston so we moved him up to Dallas to work with my dad Lloyd, Joan (my sister,) and motorcycle mama…

I can’t remember when Mike moved to Dallas from Houston.   Must have been after I got married to Susie, 1987…so about 1989 or so, before Ryan (my son,) was born.

Office work required my visits to my parents’ and Dad’s office was almost monthly and many times we invited Mike to the house and or I visited him.   He later moved off and became a specialist in a sense for State Farm agencies who were either overcome with too many customers or were owned by an undermanaged owner who needed a do it all type Fred Jones customer service rep.  

Mike stayed close with all his old friends…Steve Hull, Larry Dobbins (Benson) Rusty Shields, and more that I don’t know about.

I want to tell more stories that are specific instead of chronological….they may not be in order of this above thought process.

My brother, Mike, Steve Knapp and I all planned and went on a canoe trip down the Neches River sometime around 1989 or 1990 or so.   The plan was to rent a canoe and bring my brother’s canoe with us and head up to Dam B park on the Neches River.   We got there all find and dandy, but the park campgrounds were packed for the Friday afternoon.  We made the mistake of running off on the trip to the East Texas woods on the eve of Deer Season.  There was random gunfire all night long.  I big storm hit that night and a huge tree branch fell down 1 foot from my brother’s tent.   Lawrence (my brother) and I were determined to go on the canoe run, but it was wet and the river was running very high.  Steve and Mike stayed behind due to overdoing it the night before and they, I am sure, like the river,  were also very high.  Brother and I made it the two day trip into one day as the river was very rapid and dangerous.  The banks of the river were all mud and I was terrified the whole trip a deer hunter was gonna poke up over the bank looking into the river and Deliverance us all over the place…

Mike, Dick Gil, Alan Bull, Robert Espinosa and two others began an NFL 6 fantasy football club.  This was before what we now know as fantasy football.   Each week the winners of all the games would be picked and there was a weekly winner and a seasonal total.  Alan Bull maintained records as he was a nerd beyond what you could qualify nerdiness.  I was later admitted as were Steve Knapp and Mark Weiner.  There were two meetings a year I believe.  Each member was required to bring a six pack of their own.  However, one rule could not be broken.  No Light beer of any brand.


About 1975 or 1976 our agency in Dallas was awarded a production contest with Clark & Co (an MGA in Arlington who marketed auto insurance) and it was a four or five day trip to Acapulco, and I invited Mike.   We checked into the massive high rise hotel and then, hungry, headed out to find food.   We were apprehensive about water/food issues, so we had the cab driver scour for us until we found a diner-kips like stainless steel clean ass looking restaurant and we headed in.   I think I had blt and fries and Mike had something similar.  That was it for us.  I don’t think I went to the crapper for 10 days…Mike was in some kinda funk and kept it and his digestive problems to himself…We did many a funny visit to La Huerta, enough said.

The females who may read this meme will know about this different than i.  Mike was the most flirty guy who walked the earth.   He had a way of talking to women which was beyond any communicating method I have ever been sensitive enough to use.   My shyness to women and his electric  female engaging methods could be better attested by them than me.   Welcome comments accepted girls.

Speaking of girls, one feature of the West household was Becky West’s (Mike’s mom) collection of dolls.  Apparently, having three sons and a husband did not satisfy.  She hit the thrift stores, the garage sales, and toy shops acquiring a collection of dolls (and clothes) which filled their 3500 sq foot house.   Some of the collection was so valuable, she was able to raise multiple thousands for her and her husband to head of on their European vacation.   Of course Mike’s “special” girl friends were treated to the collection over time, I am sure.

Here in Houston in the 80’s, while Mike was with us at AA USA, he also covered the door for a music venue, The Ale House.   Most of my nightly stuff was darts till 10 to 11 or so, then a curious ride home.  Since Mike covered the Ale House door, he was a latenight person and knew a huge population of music lovers who frequented the scene off Kirby and Alabama.   Mike Holliday owned the place and Steve Knapp worked the bar for a couple of years…Angel and Marion were right there in the scene as Angela managed.   I wish I had their funny stories here… The Natives were a band who played.


I spoke with Rusty Shields last night (1 27 2021,) and Mike has been unconscious for 4 days or so.   It will not be long.  I am guessing he won’t get to read this.   Always too late on these types of things.

Rusty commented on how Mike and he appreciated me bugging them to death to get over to our 50th high school reunion.  Mike had just had skin cancer surgery on face, neck, and ears and felt quite unsightly, but he did get to re connect with a lot of RHS’ers.   One story of note I remember is there was a fullsize yellow poster of the Texas International Pop festival on display in the lobby.   Mike stopped and viewed it in respectful wonder.   It was brought by Susan Melton (Harper) and she and Mike had a conversation.   As the evening ended, she insisted Mike take the poster home.   To both myself and Mike it was quite a touching moment at the end of a pretty good reunion.   A small gesture, but in retrospect now, quite moving.






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