Mrs. Faye Smith West of Ashburn, GA passed away early Friday morning, February 18, 2022, at home surrounded by her loving family. Services to honor her life will be held Monday, February 21, at 2:00 p.m., at Bethel Baptist Church. Interment will follow the service at Rose Hill Cemtery. The family will receive friends the hour prior to the service.
Faye was born at home in 1936 in Ashburn, GA, the fourth child of Bullock and Lucy O'Neal Smith. Four more sisters would follow her, with all being born at home except the youngest. She lived her entire 85 years in Ashburn. She graduated from Ashburn High School in 1954 which, as she recalled, was the last year there were only 11 grades in school. Her first job was at the concession stand at the Theater in Ashburn, then later she worked for David and Lillian Raines at Raines Drug Store when it was located on Front Street.
During this time, she met the love of her life, Raymond West, and they married in 1956. Together they worked at the family business, West Bros. Grocery, located on the corner of Washington and Gordon Street, which Raymond and his twin brother Ronald had started when they returned home from the Korean War. The two young families had an arrangement, that Raymond and Faye handled the meat and dairy departments while Ronald and his wife Jo handled the dry goods. It was during this time that Faye suffered a horrible accident in the market which caused her to lose her right hand. She endured several surgeries and taught herself to write with her left hand, achieving the most beautiful and distinct handwriting. Her sister Amyee recalled that when she found out she was pregnant with her son Ray, she was so worried she wouldn't be able to change his diapers, because in those days, it was cloth diapers secured by a large safety pin, but she learned very quickly that she could do it just fine.
After several years in the grocery business, the family decided to expand. The West brothers built a huge new building for their business on the corner of Washington and Johnson Street. That building now houses Roses. Raymond became a dealer for Serro Scotty Travel Trailers and had a trailer lot right beside the new grocery store. The family had a lot of irons in the fire during those years, and Faye was a hard worker, spending her days at the store and nights home cooking, cleaning and caring for her children.
Then, expanding again, they opened another store in Rebecca, GA, where Faye worked for some time. She made many dear friends in the Rebecca store, and the West Bros. logo is still visible on the side of that building in downtown Rebecca. Many local high school boys and girls worked in those stores over the years, and many remain like family to this day.
As a young wife and mother in the early 1960s, Faye supported Raymond in his business and personal pursuits. When he became a member of the Jaycees Club, she became a Jayceette, the women's auxiliary side of the club, because it was a men's only club at the time. The couple always enjoyed their card nights with friends, with Rook being their game of choice.
In the late 1970s, the family purchased Plaza Restaurant in Roger's Plaza. They maintained both businesses for several years, but finally decided to close the store. After West Bros. Grocery closed for good, Faye started working in the restaurant, where she gained a whole new group of friends, the early morning coffee drinkers / world problem solvers / local grape vine growers. She handled them well, had more than a few laughs and again developed many life-long friendships.
After she and Raymond both retired, Faye worked part time for the peanut inspection service, and enjoyed that work, again forming lasting friendships with her co-workers. She was so proud that she was bringing in a paycheck completely on her own at this stage in her life, with no ties to the family businesses.
Faye and Raymond were blessed with three children, whom they provided with a most remarkable childhood. They purchased a home on North Street, where neighbors became family. In the early years, Faye would take her girls to the old Shriner pool at least once a week in the summer, or drop them off at the movie Theater or Peacock's Skating Rink. When her son was older, she spent afternoons and nights at baseball games. The family enjoyed many days at their cabin on Lake Blackshear, along with family, friends and any employees who wanted to show up; all were welcome. Another favorite family activity was their Sunday afternoon rides throughout the many dirt roads in Turner County. Of course, with both parents working at the grocery store, the children spent most afternoons there, too, playing in the storeroom or behind the building, unless a grandparent could keep them. Between the West clan and the Smith clan, there were always huge family gatherings, whether it be a fish fry, a bird dinner after a big bird shoot, a birthday party, a wedding, or whatever. The joke used to be that the Smith clan would even get together to celebrate someone getting a new set of tires.
Without fail, Faye had her daughters and son in church every Sunday morning and night. For almost 50 years she taught the 3rd grade Sunday School class at First Baptist Church in Ashburn, where she was a faithful and dedicated member. All of her family knew that her Saturday nights were for studying her lesson for the next day. Her church was a major part of her life. She was always involved in WMU, Vacation Bible School, Training Union, Awana, meals, etc.
Later in life, Faye and Raymond moved to their new home, which was on a part of the farm he had purchased years earlier. Because he'd created the roads through the property, they named the streets after their family and 2 daughters: Donna Avenue, Teresa Avenue, Westwoods Avenue and Carter Street. Then came the grandchildren, which brought a whole new level of love and enjoyment to their lives. They became Mama Faye and Granddaddy, and were instrumental in the raising of their grandchildren. Their daughter Teresa and husband Jimmy built a house right beside them and became their permanent yardkeepers, their son Ray and wife Vicki renovated the farmhouse and lived less than a mile away, and their oldest Donna and husband Tom lived in town. They were able to spend many quality days together as a family over the years. Faye especially enjoyed her flowers and watching the birds come to her feeders.
She lost her beloved Raymond in 2007, after 51 years of marriage. She struggled to adjust to living alone and clung to her God, her family and her friends. Then along came her first great-granddaughter, to be followed by even more! Her sister Amyee got her involved in cards and she started playing on a regular basis with several friends. This was a huge part of her social life until covid struck and life came to a standstill. She had to stop going to church as well, and that really made her feel isolated, but she maintained contact through it all with her friends, and her wonderful neighbors were always there if she needed anything.
Mama Faye prayed diligently for her family, especially her grandchildren. More than anything, she prayed to live long enough to see her Luci, her oldest granddaughter and her mother's namesake, free and able to move on with her life. That prayer was finally answered, and not only was Luci able to spend the last two weekends of her life with her, but Mama Faye also got to meet her two youngest great-grands when her grandson West drove with his family from Omaha, NE to be with her. As bad as she felt physically, these were both glorious reunions. She was content that, at last, all of her grandchildren were moving forward with their lives.
Faye leaves a vast family to mourn her and miss her and learn to live life without her: daughters Donna West (Tom) Boyd, Teresa West (Jimmy) Pylant and son Ray (Vicki) West, all of Ashburn, GA; grandchildren Luci Harrell, Casey Griffin, West (Rachida) Griffin, Krista Pylant, Cory Pylant, Emily West, Jeremy Boyd, Joshua Boyd, Jonathon (Elizabeth) Stallings, Jenna (Cleve) Harris, Ricky (Kristen) Stallings, Kristen (Landon) Stephens; great-grandchildren Liam Boyd, Calyssa Griffin, Aliyah, Alayna & Rayna Grant, Sarah & Adam Griffin, Chloe & Riley Stallings, Sami, McKenzie, Tommy, Anna Leigh & Levi Harris, Lexi & Luke Stallings, Brayden & Zoe Stephens; brother Wyatt Smith of Doerun, GA; sisters Amyee Blaine of Ashburn, GA & Joannie (Pete) Thomas of Moultrie, GA; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and dear friends.
In addition to her parents and her husband, she was preceded in death by sisters Betty Smith, Dean Smith Heard, Mary Smith Page, Bonnie Smith Davis and great-grandson Caleb Harris.
When Mama Faye found out the severity of her condition and there was nothing that could be done for her, she made sure everyone she loved knew how important they were to her. She told them she had no regrets, that she'd had a good life and she'd see them in heaven. This was her good life. It was more than a good life. It was a phenomenal life.