Francis Thornton West was born in Salem, Virginia on February 6, 1920. He graduated from Andrew Lewis High School in Salem before attending Roanoke College. West is the founder of West Window Corporation in Martinsville, Virginia and served as president and treasurer of the company.
West was the chairman of the board for Multitrade Group, Incorporated in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and was president of Franklin Finance Company Incorporate, also in Rocky Mount. West served as the director of the United Virginia Bank in Martinsville, and was also the director of the Virginia Consumer Finance Association and the Virginia Manufacturers Association. He was also the chairman of region II small business administration advisory council.
West was chairman of the State Board for Community Colleges from 1983-1984, and was also the former chairman of the advisory committee for Patrick Henry College of the University of Virginia. He was president and director of Martinsville-Henry Count Chamber of Commerce, the United Fund, and served as chairman of Radio Free Europe.
West was the President of the Virginia Municipal League from 1982-1983 and served the city of Martinsville, Virginia in many ways. West served as councilman for the city of Martinsville from 1966-1974, and then again from 1976-1984. He was also Vice Mayor of the city from 1968-1972 and eventually Mayor of Martinsville from 1972-1974. He served a total of 18 years for the city of Martinsville. West was an elected delegate for the White House Conference in 1979 for small businesses, and was a guest at the White House Briefing on President Regan's Economic Policy in April of 1981. West was also a member of the Governor's Local Government Advisory Council for four years.
West received the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce's prestigious Heck Ford Award in 1993. He received the Who's Who in the South and Southwest ward, as well as the Who's Who in Finance, Industry, and Government award.
West has always been an ardent supporter of education. He was appointed by President Regan to the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars in 1985 and reappointed by President Bush in 1991. At Roanoke, West established the Thomas E. West Honors Scholarships in 1988 to support students in the college's Honors Program. In 1991, he established a professorship in Business Administration.
Francis T. West received the Roanoke College Medal for distinguished service and professional achievement in 1986, and was named a sesquicentennial distinguished alumni during the college's 150th anniversary in 1992. He is married to Eleanor Eastwick Seeley, with who he had four children with.