When Carolyn West lost her fight against ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, on the evening of Feb. 6 at her home in Elkhart, Ind., it drew to a close a more than 30-year career of TWR mission service in the Pacific, the Caribbean, Africa and North America.
“We all know that she is now happy and is pain free,” Katie West wrote in an email message to her parents’ colleagues at TWR.
In August 1973, a young man named Rich West went to Swaziland to serve short term with TWR. Meanwhile, a young woman named Carolyn Sperry had just graduated with an education degree and went to Swaziland to teach at the invitation of her aunt and uncle, a missionary couple serving there. Within a year, Rich and Carolyn had met, fallen in love and married. They both felt called toward career missions and were appointed to continue service in Swaziland with TWR.
After Swaziland, the Wests were reassigned in 1980 to Guam, where Carolyn directed KTWR’s Bible Correspondence Department and Rich served as chief antenna rigger. From 2001-2003, the Wests served at the HCJB technical center in Elkhart. Then in 2003, the Wests made another move – to the island of Bonaire. Rich served as the chief station rigger and as an engineer. Then in 2007, the Wests felt led to move their family back to the United States, where they were again serving with HCJB in Elkhart.
In April of 2010, Carolyn was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Soon after her diagnosis, Carolyn wrote this in her online journal:
I'm relying on God's promises. I am praying for strength and courage. I'm counting on God to provide me the courage to live each day to the fullest and to focus on him and not give up. I'll surely need HIS strength to choose joy rather than pity, praise instead of sadness and love before anger. Mostly, I'm praying that I'll be able to live glorifying God so that others might see his power, his love and his greatness through me.
After battling her illness in such a way that God was glorified, Carolyn went home to be with him this month. While this is a sad and difficult time, the Wests and the TWR family have peace, knowing that she is with the Lord.
Carolyn is survived by Rich and their six children: Heather, Sara, Stacy, Roxanne, Katie and Bryce.
The memorial service for Carolyn will be held on Saturday, February 11, 2012, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Elkhart, located at 53953 County Road 17 in Bristol, Ind. The family suggests that memorial gifts be made to TWR.