Former South Carolina First Lady Lois West has died.
West, the widow of former Governor John C. West died suddenly at her home on Hilton Head Island, her son confirmed to the Associated Press on Tuesday. She was 92. Jack West said his mother had suffered heart problems.
Gov. West led the state as a Democrat from 1971 to 1975. Following his term as governor, West served as the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1977 to 1981. He died from cancer in 2004.
But Mrs. West had a notable life in her own right, becoming the first married woman to graduate from Winthrop University in 1943. She and her husband both helped establish a scholarship program at her alma mater and later served as co-chair of the school’s capital campaign. West was also the first woman to lead the national Muscular Dystrophy Association. The Lois Rhame West Health, Physical Education, and Wellness Center is named in her honor.
Another former South Carolina First Lady Iris Campbell said West had been very helpful while Campbell’s own husband Carroll served as governor from 1987 to 1995.
“Lois was a fine Southern lady and deeply devoted to her husband, our state and it’s citizens,” she said in a statement. “Lois was so helpful to me while Carroll was Governor, and I always enjoyed listening to her reminisce about her time in the Governor’s Mansion. On behalf of the entire Campbell Family, our thoughts and prayers are with the Wests during this time.”
A funeral is planned Thursday at the Bethesda Presbyterian Church in West’s hometown of Camden.