At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN 38105
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Life Story / Obituary
A self-taught musician and teacher, a loving mother and supportive wife, Judith West made quite a mark in this lifetime. Hard work never daunted her, and life never kept her down for long. She had an impeccable ability to find the good all around her. We will hold the memories of Judy close to our hearts, and we will never forget such a good and sweet soul.
The dawning of a new decade brought in the year of 1940. The United States was finally beginning to feel some relief from The Great Depression, but WWII raged on abroad. American citizens rolled up their sleeves to help with the war efforts manning factories or merely planting vegetable gardens to lessen the burden of the low food supply. The country supported Franklin D. Roosevelt who was elected to an unprecedented third term in office. Closer to home, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Gabriel and Mary (Wheat) Zweedyk were beginning a new chapter in their lives. On June 19, 1940, they welcomed their first born daughter, Judith, into the world. Over the course of the next four years, Judy would be joined by a younger brother and sister; Ron and Helen helped Judy complete the family of five.
The three kids made many childhood memories together as they grew up in the home located on Emerson Street in Kalamazoo. Their parents worked hard to provide the family a good and comfortable life. Their father was a machinist who made cherry pickers, and their mother worked in an actual glue factory. The Zweedyk's were a close knit family and built a strong Christian foundation as members of First Church of the Nazarene. Judy was a bit shy and tended to live a sheltered life. She did take piano lessons regularly and sang in the church as well. Their church pastor's daughter was her very best friend, and the two girls shared many secrets and delights in their early childhood days. Much to Judy's chagrin, her father would often plan camping trips to Lake Michigan in the summertime, and this was definitely not her most favorite adventure.
During the academic years, she attended McKinley Elementary and Southside Jr. High. As she matured, she enrolled at Kalamazoo Central High School and graduated earning her diploma. After high school, Judy attended Parsons Business School where she learned her accounting skills.
She found young love early in life. At the tender age of 17, she married Elwin Warren. The newlyweds welcomed their first daughter within a year of saying their vows. They named her Veronica and before long, she was joined by 5 siblings. Constance, Rodney, Dennis, Joel, and Robert were gladly welcomed by Veronica, for they were built in playmates. Judy definitely had her hands full with raising a family, but she still found the time to enjoy her musical passions. She was naturally talented, as she taught herself how to play the accordion and the organ. She enjoyed Patriotic and Gospel music, but she even liked New Age.
At the age of 27, it was clear that Judy and Elwin needed to go in different life directions. The two divorced, and Judy was left to raise her family of 6 children as a single mother. Though this time in her life may have been challenging, she never once faltered to continue to work hard to make sure her family was her first priority. She was dedicated and extremely capable. She worked a full-time day job, and at night, she offered music lessons to earn extra money. She was also very fortunate to have the help of her extended family on a regular basis.
Being a single mother of such a large family, it was important that her parenting skills left nothing to the argument. She was a master of "the look" which she would display whenever any of her children pushed her to the limits. Mostly though, her home was full of music and love. She found a way to juggle their finances along with all of the crazy family schedules throughout the years.
Once she found her rhythm in single parenting, fate gave her an exciting opportunity. In 1971, a new bold company named Hobbit Toys and Games established itself in town. Judy was recruited to run the front office of the company. From the start, she whole-heartedly believed in the owners' vision, and before long she became a valued part of their team. Unfortunately, the recession of the early 70's created an unstable situation for the store, and it was forced to close its doors. All was not forsaken, however, Judy found something quite wonderful in the wake of loss. Arnold Jack West, one of the entrepreneurs of the company, captured Judy's heart. The two began a romance, and after a two-year courtship, they decided to get married. They rang wedding bells on May 17, 1975.
Jack and Judy were the perfect match. She was his biggest fan and support in life. They complimented one another entirely. Judy was Jack's constant supporter and provider of encouragement. As a couple, they were strong and bold.
They bravely decided to move their family to Grand Rapids where they literally had to start a life from scratch. Judy was remarkable in her ability to support her children, her dear husband's new career, and her own career and musical passions. She succeeded with great admirability and retired in 2002 from Modern Litho after over 30 years of dedicated employment.
Judy's life was not always hard work, as she was smart to include rest, relaxation, and adventure as well. She loved to travel, and she would often make vacations out of Jack's business trips. She would tag along, taking advantage of the company jet that would take her to all sorts of new and interesting places. Aside from work travel, she and Jack planned an amazing vacation they named the "Circle Tour" that took them 1,900 miles on the road through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. They made many special memories together on that trip.
Judy's love for animals was apparent throughout her life. Whether she was welcoming snuggles and wet, slobbery kisses from her dogs Rascal, Molly, Tootsie, Daisy, Bella or her best bud, Sassy or welcoming a purr from Cartoon or KoKo Bear - she adored each of them in this life. She even had a special place in her heart for her rabbit, Ruth. It is possible to tell a great deal about a person by their ability to love animals, and Judy gave them all an abundance of love.
Judy was always known for her ambitious drive in life. She was a natural and honest leader. Even if it was sometimes hard to listen, Judy would not tell you what you wanted to hear, but instead, what you needed to hear. This transparent quality was what made her so special along with her understanding of the need for a sense of humor when life got difficult. Though she had her stubborn side, she always stood up for what she thought was right. Sadly, Judith West passed away on August 13, 2017, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. As we look to one another to find comfort in the memories we can share, we will forever miss her presence in our lives.
WEST, Judith E.
Grand Rapids, MI
Age 77, passed away on August 13, 2017. Judy was born on June 19, 1940, in Kalamazoo, MI the daughter of the late Gabriel and Mary (Wheat) Zweedyk. Judy was passionate about music, playing and teaching organ, and leading the choral group The Choralettes. She loved gardening and all kinds of animals. On May 17, 1975, Judy married Arnold Jack West who survives; also surviving are her children, Constance Warren of Kentwood, Rodney Warren of Grand Rapids, Dennis Warren of California, Joel Warren of Grand Rapids; granddaughter, Jessica Warren; brother, Ronald (Jean) Zweedyk of Portage; and sister, Helen Polmanteer of Kalamazoo. Judy was preceded in death by her children, Veronica Warren and Robert Warren. A service to celebrate Judy's life will be held Thursday, August 17 at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Friends may visit with her family on Wednesday from 6-8 PM. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Jude Children's Hospital. Please visit Judy's personal web page to read more of her life story, leave a memory or condolence at www.lifestorynet .com.