Last week, Black Press lost a dear friend and longtime colleague with the passing of Ron West, who died suddenly at Surrey Memorial Hospital on Wednesday, May 22. He was 55.
West started his career at The Surrey-North Delta Leader 23 years ago as a part-time photographer and darkroom technician.
Long before cellphone cameras and digital SLRs became commonplace, West would travel with his Minolta film camera and his news scanner (a radio that monitored police and fire transmissions) while delivering newspapers at night and capture spot news events as they were happening.
West is being remembered as a big man with an even bigger heart who was often recognized at news events and given special access beyond the general public.
However, his love of photography spread beyond just current events, and over the years, West developed a passion for wildlife photography and could often be seen wandering Stanley Park or the beaches of Port Moody with one of his new Canon digital SLRs and telephoto lenses photographing wild animals and birds (including an osprey photographed in Langley last year, at left).
More of West’s photographs are featured in the slideshow at the top of this story.
From his large La-Z-Boy in his living room, he would sit and watch as the squirrels would visit his apartment and eat from various feeders he had placed on his balcony and around the room. He had names for all the critters.
When the days of film photography and darkrooms came to an end, West became the main courier for Black Press, delivering packages and supplies to various newspapers in the chain, from Abbotsford to Burnaby.
He spent many evenings at Montana’s Cookhouse in South Surrey, eventually accepting an evening job as a dishwasher.
A celebration of West’s life is being planned for a future date.