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Thomas Dyson West
THE world owes much to the plain, plodding worker who, uncomplainingly, does his whole duty as he sees it; but
beyond his labors there is a sphere of activity wherein _~~~ the workers are few and the products produced are
most rare—that of genius. Through the medium of this subtle, sublime, inscrutable thing, possessed by certain favored ones, all the great treasures of art, literature, music, science, and invention have been given to the world. Those who knew him best, do not hesitate to pronounce the late Thomas Dyson West, for many years a well-known resident of Cleveland, Ohio, a genius of a high order, although it is doubtful if all who knew him appreciated this fact to its fullest extent. He was a pioneer in the safety first idea in factories, was an eminent authority on foundry practice, and an energetic, industrial and humane welfare worker. The world is better for his having lived.
Mr. West was born in Manchester, England, August 31, 1851. He was a son of William H. and Sara A. (Faraday) West. His parents came to America while he was in his infancy and here he grew to manhood and was educated. When only twelve years of age he began what proved to be his life work in a foundry. He had a quick mind and mastered every branch of the business in a comparatively short time, and before he was twenty-one was an able foreman of an iron jobbing foundry. He subsequently became vice president and general manager, from 1887 to 1909, of the Thomas D. West Foundry Company, originally of Cleveland, but now the Valley Mould & Iron Company of Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, a firm which produced about four hundred tons of ingot mold castings daily from "direct metal" at the time Mr. West severed his connection with this company.
The West Steel Casting Company, of Cleveland, Ohio, was incorporated in 1906, with Mr. West as chairman and managing director, and his son, Ralph H. West, president and general manager. Since its start this firm has made two large extensions and additions, in 1915, which doubled its capacity.
There was no better authority on subjects pertaining to the technique of iron foundry work than Mr. West. He began writing for trade and technical journals in 1881, and the merit of his articles was immediately recognized on account of their originality and practical knowledge of processes gained by exhaustive research which proved most valuable and earned Mr. West the credit of having done more to benefit and place the art of founding on the high plane on which it is found this day, than any other man.
The first standardized cast iron drilling adopted by the United States Bureau of Standards, 1905, was made possible by Mr. West's labors to help advance chemistry in founding. He also originated the use of "direct metal" to make ingot molds for steel works and the use of round test bars cast on end, and other improvements to test cast iron. He was the patentee of processes for hardening and obtaining an even depth of chill in car wheels
which have proven by tests to give better service than standard wheels.
Mr. West was an honorary member of the American, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh Foundrymen's Associations, president of the American Foundrymen's Association (1905-1906) and received testimonial gifts from political associations for being an enthusiastic worker, and from his shop employees for his kind, considerate treatment of them. He was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Society for Testing Materials, A. A. A. F., Cleveland Engineering Society, and other associations having humane and sociological aims, also a member of the Masonic and other fraternities.
Mr. West, although a very busy man, found time for authorship, and his writings show unusual talent, being instructive, entertaining, logical, polished, and versatile. His most pretentious work, "American Foundry Practice," brought out in 1882, has reached its eleventh edition; "Moulders' Text Book," issued in 1885, is now in its ninth edition; "Metallurgy of Cast Iron," which came from the press in 1897, has attained its fourteenth edition. Much of these three excellent works has been translated into the German and French languages, and published in book form. He brought out "The Competent Life," in 1905; "Accidents, Their Cause and Remedies," in 1908; "The Efficient Man," 1914; "Foundry Instruction Papers for the International Correspondence Schools," besides a number of technical papers given to foundry engineering societies are among the literary achievements of Mr. West who had, by his own efforts and innate ability, gained an international reputation.
Since 1907 Mr. West had been a very active leader in the humane work of preventing accidents. His first important achievement in this lies in his being the founder and president of the first American Anti-Accident Association, laboring energetically for the prevention of accidents. This society was organized at Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, but has become extinct since Mr. West left that city in 1909. The vigor with which he pushed the aims of this association attracted so much attention all over the country that he was able to hold a public meeting of "Safety First" work in the Young Men's Christian Association building, Twenty-third Street, New York City, February 11, 1909. This meeting was attended by representatives from steel works, leading industrial papers, insurance companies and humane workers, and gave such an impetus to the movement that it was but little more than a year when "Safety First" became the dominant thought of almost all persons in our country having any connections with accidents. In 1908 he was chosen chairman of the American Foundrymen's Association Accident Prevention Committee, which did much good work for the cause.
Mr. West was the originator of Cleveland's "Sane Fourth" celebrations, which have led many other communities to cease their maiming and killing on Independence Day. He was also the promotor of a campaign to keep saloons back from industrial
plants in the interest of "safety first" work. In March, 1905, he was solicited by the Industrial Commission of Ohio to be chairman of its foundry committee to formulate rules and regulations for sanitation and safety, and, after accepting the same, he devised plans for States to give prizes to firms leading in the prevention of accidents which were unanimously endorsed by a body of State officials, foundrymen, and labor leaders at a public meeting held in Springfield, Ohio, May 21, 1915. In connection with his work on accidents, he wrote many original articles, as stated in a preceding paragraph, which were published by leading trade journals and presented various papers before influential societies on preventing accidents and he was also the author of the first American work published solely on the cause and prevention of accidents which has resulted in incalculable good to humanity. The efficient pioneering and steady, effective work he did in helping to advance "Safety First" measures entitles him to universal recognition as the father of the present "Safety First" practices in the United States.
The following communication of condolence and sympathy was received by A. 0. Backert, Secretary and Treasurer of the American Foundrymen's Association, from W. Mayer, President of the British Foundrymen's Association, who is proprietor of the Leven Bank Foundry, Dumbarton, Scotland:
"At a Council meeting of the British Foundrymen's Association held at Leeds, on July 10, when the President intimated to the Council the very sad and untimely death, through a motor accident, of the late T. D. West it was unanimously resolved and to be entered in the minute book that a letter be sent to the American Foundry Journal expressing their deepest sympathy with the West family and condoling with them in their great bereavement, and likewise condoling with the American Foundrymen on the great loss the foundry trade had sustained not only in America and Great Britain, but all over the world wherever the English language was spoken. His keen insight and practical knowledge and experience of the Foundry Trade and the great literary ability that he was endowed with, enabled him to publish a large number of books dealing with every phase of the Foundry Trade, and while we deplore the death of the author it is a consolation to us that his books are left to us which in many cases will become standard works on foundry practice and they will always be a memento of a great and foremost foundryman."
The following tribute to Mr. West is by Dr. Richard Moldenke, of Watchung, New Jersey:
"It was a strange coincidence that while I was engaged in writing up the subject of repairing castings and dwelt upon the first which was written by Mr. West (January 15, 1881, on 'burningon' heavy castings), that the telephone should ring and word come of his tragic departure from this life. The shock brought home to me the fact that we had been close friends for nearly twenty-four years and had worked hand in hand to solve many problems in the modern foundry advance, of which Mr. West was the father."
"Back in the early days of my foundry life, while in Pittsburgh, and when Mr. West's activities were centered in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, I spent many a Sunday with him and gained wisdom from his inexhaustible fund of foundry knowledge. Many of the elaborate series of tests he made, and at which I assisted from the laboratory end, were laid out at these meetings."
"He is now called away from his activities, much too soon for the good of the industry, but not too late to have experienced within his lifetime the rare satisfaction of achieving success, and seeing his work for foundry betterment accepted as authoritative the world over. He is recognized as the foremost authority on practical foundry procedure. A genial, optimistic, wholehearted man and friend, full of sympathy toward his fellow-men, but none the less ready to apply the surgeon's knife to the roots of inefficiency, self-indulgence, incapacity, and carelessness he saw springing to engulf mankind. The modern movement for safety and efficiency owes much of its early progress to him—to his facile pen and constant and unremitting preachment."
"To record his services to the foundry world would fill many pages of the book on the modern foundry advance. His writings will be found in the transactions of all the engineering and technical societies of the world, and no man was his equal in the laying out of experimental details required in the study of his subject. Old and young foundry men the world over will mourn his loss. His amiable qualities will live long in their memories, and his constant striving after the truth will help to spur on others to do likewise. Truly of him can be said that 'his works live after him.' "
Our subject was selected to present a paper at the International Engineering Congress at the Panama Exposition at San Francisco, in September, 1915. The paper, entitled, "Recent Advances and Improvements in Founding" was finished just before his death, and has recently been put in printed form. It is regarded as a masterpiece of its kind.
Mr. West was married twice. His first wife was Miss Emma Robison, and to their union three children were born, namely, Dr. Thomas J. West, who lives at Makaweli, Qauai, Hawaii, is married and has two sons, Ralph H. West, president of the West Steel Casting Company, of Cleveland, Ohio, married Bertha Beck, and they have four children, Ralph H. West, Jr., Thomas Dyson West, Samuel Beek West, and Bertha Beck West; Mrs. William E. Ward, of Cleveland, has three children, William West Ward, Jr., Pearl Antoinette Ward, and Theodore Faraday Ward. On March 7, 1900, Thomas D. West was married to Clara G. Gerblick, a daughter of August Gerblick, of Rockland, Michigan, where the Gerblick family has long been prominent. Mrsll. West is one of a family of nine children, seven of whom are stiliving. The second marriage of our subject was without issue.
As illustrative of the irony of fate, Thomas D. West died in Cleveland, June 17, 1915, from injuries received by being struck
by an automobile. He was nearly sixty-four years of age, but was in full physical and mental vigor, having lived a clean, wholesome life, right thinking and right living being his watchwords. Although he accomplished much good, sowing seeds that will continue to bring forth an abundant harvest during future generations, his untimely death frustrated plans for much greater good to humanity, and he will long be sincerely mourned by an admiring acquaintance.
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