Dr. Roy A. West, former Richmond mayor, educator, dies at 89

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 5/31/2019, 6 a.m.
Dr. Roy A. West, a decisive and outspoken man known for his strong opinions and who exercised power at City ...
Dr. West

A hard worker, he would go on to serve as principal of the adult evening school for seven years while also serving by day as director of school food services for the city school system.

He stopped working two jobs after being promoted to principal of John Marshall High School in 1976. He served there for four years, then another seven as principal of Albert Hill Middle. He later served two years as principal of Mosby Middle and then as a magnet school planner before retiring in 1991 after 31 years with RPS.

Dr. West was proud of his efforts to motivate students. As he once wrote, his efforts were recognized in the students’ “impressive academic achievements as measured by standardized tests and other assessment criteria.”

In his view, his success as a principal emanated from his ability to “energize all involved — students, teachers, parents and community — to accept and expect excellence in an orderly environment.”

He was a no nonsense leader, and students soon learned not to run afoul of him by breaking rules. He imposed discipline, asserting that learning could not take place “in a toxic environment,” and won attention when he had the front doors locked at Albert Hill Middle School as a security measure to keep out what he considered potentially disruptive individuals.

While not all agreed, he described himself as “a teacher-oriented leader and caring disciplinarian.”

He also taught business classes as an adjunct professor at VUU for 20 years.

He first became active in civic affairs in 1968 when he became president of the Washington Park Civic Association and got involved in the implementation of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s conservation plan to usher in improvements.

Dr. West won numerous awards for his service, ranging from the Martin Luther King Jr. Medal from George Washington University for distinguished service in the field of human rights to the Richmond Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award for his efforts to build cooperation and understanding between different groups of people.

In 1985, the Metro Richmond Chamber of Commerce named him the first recipient of the new Community Service Award. He also received the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Citizen of the Year Award for the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Dr. West was a former president of the Metropolitan Economic Development Council and former member of the boards of Richmond Community Hospital and the Richmond Memorial Hospital Foundation.

He was a member of the Rotary Club of Richmond and The Forum Club and was a lifetime member and trustee of St. John Baptist Church in North Side.

Predeceased by his wife, Helen Hubbard West, who died in 1998, Dr. West is survived by his son, Mahlone West; daughter, Debra West; brother, Ira West; and two grandchildren.