George West: Do What You Love
George West is a 75 year old amputee. He lost his right leg below the knee at the age of 39. His sense of humor and spunk are really on display when he talks about his age, “I am now a 75-year-old who really enjoys not worrying much about what I say now. That’s the best thing about surviving to this age!”
He is no stranger to difficulty as he shared struggles he faced in school at a young age that eventually led him to discover some of his passions: starting businesses, construction, and trucks!
“I grew up on a farm northwest of Columbus Ohio. School bored me and I was constantly called “incorrigible”. It turned out that I am very dyslexic. I married at 17, and we had a daughter soon after. After four years of basic jobs, like unloading trucks and working in a foundry, I bought a small failing sports car repair garage. It turned out that I am good at starting businesses. After four years, I sold the garage and took over the management of a large bar. It thrived, and the owners sold it after five years. Afterward, almost by accident, I took over the town's water system after the operator died. Then in 1978, I moved to California and managed two other water departments. While working for the water departments, I also started a construction company, then another construction company, and added a trucking company after that.”
Full swing into running businesses and pursuing his passions, George was tragically run over by a car while crossing the street. That was thirty-seven years ago,
“When I was 39 I was run over while crossing the street. In the movies that seem to always kill you, but I was and am quite large and strong and proved the movies wrong! I had lost my right leg just below the knee, also I broke my neck and a lot of bones throughout my body.”
The first year following his amputation, George admits was very difficult in multiple ways. His wife left, his bills almost forced him into bankruptcy, and he had a lot to relearn physically with the amputation. However, George persevered and found there was much he was still able to do with some persistence and determination.
“After my amputation, I first got a job managing a water department then also another construction company. I thought there would be a lot I could no longer do, but that proved wrong. I have climbed and worked on water towers. Once I accidentally dropped my leg 60 feet when I stepped from a roof to a ladder. I had to climb down on my stump utilizing my other foot and arms. I have always liked to climb and have since climbed many towers. I have even rebuilt a 100 foot Church Bell tower that was first constructed in 1841. On top of that, I have climbed many ash trees and removed them after Ash Bore killed them.”
George has not retired from his work with water departments and construction companies, but it hasn’t kept him from pursuing his passions and interests. In fact, he may be working his favorite job ever at 75 years old… even as an amputee!
“My favorite job is driving big trucks; AKA semis, and I have driven many across the country after I retired from my other jobs. Even with my amputation, I have passed a federal driving test and hauled many loads of explosives and a few loads of money.” In short, I believe while we are all human and have limits, being an amputee need not limit you from many jobs that seem at first unlikely. Go Play and ride bicycles a lot. But I still fear ice.“