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Bob West Bob West
Inducted: 2009 - Graduated: N/A


Bob West was first and foremost a teacher. The man who initiated the Nanuet soccor program in 1964 and taught physical education at the Miller Elementary School from 1963 to '87 loved nothing better than to mold and nurture young people. Not just in the finer points of kicking or throwing a ball, but in instilling values like respect and equal opportunity for everyone.

Bob knew how to communicate with kids. He dispensed life lessons with infinite patience and "a Bill Cosby sense of humor" in the words of one former player. He was the frist African-American coach at Nanuet but never judged a person by color or any other subjective measure when teaching or evaluating performance. "He never saw color; he never looked at himself or other people in that way," says Robby West, Bob's son. "If you were a good person he treated you well and you treated him well. He always told me, "Do what's right. Do the right thing."

After launching the boys' soccor program as a junior vartiy team in '64, Bob was at the helm for the team's varsity debut in 1966, recruiting players from both the gerneral population of Nanuet Schools and St. Agatha's Home to form one of the first fully integrated teams in Nanuet athletics. The highlight of Bob's nine-year term (1966-75) as boys' coach was the Rockland PSAL co-championship Nanuet shared with Nyack in '67, led by All-County forward Ray Perez and All-County Goalie Ismael Cruz.

Bob then started the girls' soccor program in 1975 and coached the team to numerous titles, including a rockland PSAL championship in 1981, four successive Conference B titles from 1981-1984, three straight Sectional crowns from 1982-1984, and a Regional championship and State semifinal berth in '83. From 1981 to '84 - the Sue Sahlstrom era - his teams went 56-11-3, including a nifty 18-2 mark in '83. Bob coached the girls until 1986 and retired from teaching in 19887. Besides soccer, he also coached besketball, baseball, softball, and track, and taught fencing as a club sport.

His former players remember Bob's humanity and sensitivity to each individual's circumstances. Bob Walkley has poignant memories of the coach he played soccor for from 1967 to '70. Before the 1969 season Walkley, then, 16, underwent knee surgery that took a life threatening turn when his heart stopped twice during surgery and he fell into a come. When he awoke five days later, Coach West began to visit with him and continued his visitations every day for threee weeks straight to cheer him up and offer moral support.

"He became my mentor," says Walkley, who has gone on to a successful coaching career, first at Albertus Magnus and currently at Suffern. "He turned my life around. I was planning to go into the military. But because of what he did for me, I said, 'This is the type of person I want to be,' to work with kids and be a coach. He was hard on us and earned respect, but at the same time, he had this compassion and feeling for all the athletes. He made you want to play for him and

go after the goals he set forth.”

Besides Bob Walkley, several other West protégés went into soccer coaching partly because of his influence – former players like Ed Walkley, Pete Patrikis, Ray Perez and Ed Mooney. To pay tribute to West’s legacy, the annual Nanuet alumni soccer games for men and women have been renamed the Robert West Alumni Memorial. 

Bob West was born in Jacksonville, Fla., and moved to Harlem with his mother and brother Alvin when he was 6 years old. He attended Benjamin Franklin High School in New York City and earned his undergraduate degree in education from Brooklyn College before serving for three years in the Marines, stationed in California. He was honorably discharged in 1953 with a rank of sergeant.

He obtained his master’s in physical education from the University of Illinois in 1958 and began his teaching career at the Barnard School for Boys in Manhattan, rising to chairman of the physical education department. 

Bob arrived at Nanuet in 1963 and taught and coached until retiring in 1987. He moved to Long Beach Island, N.J., in 1988 and remained there till 1999, when he relocated to California. In 2005 he moved to Marana, Ariz., and lived there until his death in October 2007 at age 77. Bob suffered from diabetes in later life and lost his right leg, below the knee, in 1998. Despite his physical hardships, however, he was as upbeat as ever and continued to live a fulfilling life, wearing a prosthesis and traveling to various destinations with his third wife, Geraldine. 

Bob was a man of eclectic pursuits that challenged the mind, body and spirit. He was an outdoorsman who loved to fish, a sportsman who taught his children everything from archery to fencing to horseback riding, and a serious devotee of chess and other analytical games. 

“While my dad waited 10 years for a son, he taught my sister Kendall and I chess, numerous card games, archery, riflery, horseback riding, rowboating, swimming, fencing and fishing,” says Bayyinah Muhammad, Bob’s oldest child. “I grew up loving the outdoors from spending summers in Vermont at Camp Ethan Allen,” where Bob served as director for many years. 

Bob also became a master bridge player, venturing to play in tournaments throughout the country. “He had an electronic bridge game and he carried it with him all the time, to doctor’s appointments and everywhere,” says Robby West. 

Bob had three children with his first wife, Scherrell: Muhammad, who’s 56 and lives in Ypsilanti, Mich.; Kendall West, 53, of the Bronx; and Robby West, 46, of Parsippany, N.J. His second wife, Deirdre, died in 1995. Besides Scherrell, Geraldine and his three children, Bob is survived by 10 grandchildren, 5 great grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild.