Dr. Clifton Forrest West Jr.


Dr. Clifton Forrest West Jr. (“Clif”) of Chestertown, Md., passed away on Feb. 28, 2023, peacefully in his sleep, at the age of 99. Dr. West was the loving father of Betsy West Dripps. He and his family spent more than 50 years on East Chop every summer. He loved swimming at the East Chop Beach Club, sailing at the East Chop Yacht Club, and going out fishing in his son-in-law’s Boston Whaler.

Dr. West was born in Kinston, N.C., on September 19, 1923, the son of Dr. Clifton Forrest and Susan Perry West. His father was the only doctor in town, and started his practice riding horseback with his little black bag to visit his patients.

Dr. West graduated from Woodberry Forrest School, and went on to be a premed student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His mentor and favorite professor at UNC was Dr. Ike Taylor, who was the father of Alex, James, Livingston, Hugh, and Kate. He completed his medical training at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. In 1946 he married the love of his life, the late Joan Darby. He was a devoted and loving husband for 73 years. He was a proud veteran of the U.S. Army, serving as a surgeon in a MASH unit on the front lines during the Korean War. After the war, he was stationed in Japan, where his young family could join him. He loved sharing his stories about the creating of a MASH unit with all his family and friends.

Dr. West spent his medical career at Lankenau Hospital in Philadelphia, where he was a general surgeon. He had a wonderful bedside manner, giving each of his patients the best possible care, and they all loved him. He also enjoyed mentoring and teaching the interns, residents, and nurses who were lucky enough to work with him. After his retirement, he and Joan went on many wonderful trips all over the world, sharing their adventures with family and friends. They loved their farm in Chestertown, on the Chester River, with his sailboat on the dock right out in front of his house, ready to go. Dr. West enjoyed swimming, fishing, hunting, and sailing, and was especially fond of playing golf. He also had a particular love for gardening and growing plants. He grew camellias and azaleas from seeds or cuttings, along with orchids and bonsais. He loved building and planting troughs for his alpine plants, which he also started from seed. For many years he entered many of his alpine troughs in the Philadelphia Flower Show, and always came home with many ribbons, receiving 30 individual ribbons in one year.

He was an active member of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Chestertown, St. Andrew’s Society, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md., and the North American Rock Garden Society. He served for nine years on the Kent and Queen Anne’s Hospital Board, where he was the board chairman. He also served on the board of the United Way.

He is survived by his children, Betsy Dripps and her husband Craig, Forrest West and his wife Patricia, Carolyn Pace and her husband Kevin, and Doug West and his wife Sue; by 12 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren, all of whom he knew and loved. How lucky were his grandchildren, Wes Dripps, Marion Harris, Heidi Thompson, and Perry Dripps, along with his great-grandchildren, Aidan, Ian and Emelyn Harris, Ellie and Sadie Dripps, and Liam and Shilah Thompson, to have shared the Vineyard with him and four generations, all in the same house? Pretty lucky!