Distinguished Alumni 2000

Lois Rhame West

West, LoisLois Rhame West graduated from Winthrop College in 1943 with a bachelor of science degree in physical education. A year before she graduated, she married John West who later became governor of South Carolina. Following her graduation, she taught at the University of South Carolina to help put her husband through law school.

While Mr. West was serving in WWII, Lois sold war bonds at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington and also conducted farm surveys. After the war she took a key role in her husband's success as she raised their three children and campaigned with him. As First Lady of South Carolina, she entertained guests with luncheons, brunches, and dinner parties while continuing her role as an active mother. Following their stay in the Governor's Mansion, she lived in Saudi Arabia when her husband was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. A true diplomat, she made some strides in acceptance of women in leadership roles during her stay.

Her numerous civic contributions include service as a trustee on the S.C. Museum Commission, president of the West Foundation (a scholarship program named for her husband) and a volunteer with both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts. Lois has even started a horticulture and floriculture program at Midlands Center, a facility in Columbia that serves adults with mental retardation. For more than 25 years she has taken an active role in the Muscular Dystrophy Association and was the first female to serve as its president.

She continues her active involvement in civic agencies and currently serves as co-chair for Winthrop's first capital campaign. One of the many honors bestowed on Lois was the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from Winthrop College in 1984.