Heifer International is saddened to learn of the passing of Philip West, a son of our founder, Dan West. Philip West died Thursday in Missoula, Montana, surrounded by family. He is the brother of longtime Heifer staff member, author and supporter Jan West Shrock. Our sympathies and condolences go out to family and friends.
A lifelong learner, teacher and scholar, Philip West spent his life working for a more peaceful future. As a young boy growing up on a farm, he learned the principles and values that would guide his life.
As a junior at Manchester College in Indiana, he put his skills to use for a time as a Seagoing Cowboy, helping tend 28 heifers in their voyage bound to help poor Japanese farmers struggling to recover in the aftermath of World War II. Once there, he spent a year studying Japanese at International Christian University in Tokyo.
After graduation from Manchester College in 1960, with a degree in Peace Studies, he completed his selective service as a conscientious objector, teaching English in Poland through the Church of the Brethren Volunteer Service. He studied Chinese at Harvard and earned his Ph.D in modern Chinese history and East Asian Languages in 1971.
Harvard published his first book, on Yenching University and Chinese-Western relations, which was nominated for a Pulitzer award in history. Philip West wrote extensively on Japanese narratives of war, and edited two books examining history and war memory— one about Korea, and the other about Vietnam.
Throughout his career, he worked to broaden and enrich the East Asian curriculum in university classrooms and public schools. At Indiana University Bloomington, he spent six years directing the East Asian Studies Center. Then he was invited to direct the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at the University of Montana, named for the former Senate majority leader and U.S. ambassador to Japan, a post he held for 10 years.
A memorial service for Philip West is planned for a later date.