STEUBENVILLE - The Lee Alexander West family will observe the second-year anniversary of his death by honoring the teacher who had a positive impact on his life.
West, a 15-year-old high school freshman, died in a house fire on Jan. 31, 2012.
And while she mourns her son's death every day, Cookie West has worked to remember him in a positive way by holding annual community birthday parties at Belleview Park and hosting family basketball games at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center.
Lee Alexander West
The second-annual memorial service is set for 6 p.m. Friday at the Tower of Power Church on Maryland Avenue.
"We will be coming together to remember Lee, and we wanted to add another aspect of my Lee's character to this service by honoring the teacher who most impacted his life in a positive way. We are asking Steubenville High School students to nominate the teacher who has most impacted their life. We have asked the students to explain to us in 150 words or less which teacher has really impacted their life in a positive way. We will honor three additional teachers during the service in addition to the teacher we choose for Lee," Cookie West explained.
"Many people knew Lee as a great athlete, but Lee was an excellent student as well. He was an honor student at Steubenville High School. There were several teachers who helped shape Lee into the young man he had become," said Cookie West.
"Lee was a freshman in high school, but he already knew he wanted to be an engineer. He had told me the day of the fire that he was looking at different types of engineering careers. He took his future very seriously. In fact, after he passed I received a letter for him from a leadership conference in Washington, D.C., inviting Lee to this year's conference on national security. That took my breath away," she said.
"Lee was in transition at Steubenville High School. He was becoming a man. Lee loved all sports, but he was also very passionate about his education. Lee's dream was to become an engineer and he was already checking out colleges and universities that offered engineering courses," recalled Cookie West.
"I remember reading one of his report cards from high school and the comments his teachers had written really made me proud. I felt good because I knew Lee was taking his classes and academics very seriously. Teachers in our schools don't always get a lot of thanks. But our children succeed and become doctors, lawyers, engineers and teachers because of the people who help shape them and inspire them while they are in school," stated Cookie West.
"Lee was a great young man and a great son who touched a lot of people. I realized that when I saw all of the people at his funeral two years ago. I think today about how precious life is and how important our choices are. Lee got to play sports and be a young man but he also let God into his life. He didn't take life for granted," his mother said.
"I believe Lee is looking down from heaven. I believe Lee is always with me. I know I will see Lee again. I understand and respect God's plan. He needed Lee. God has comforted me. My tears are tears of joy because Lee is in heaven. And they are tears of sorrow because I miss him," Cookie West stated.
"I am inviting the community to join us Friday evening at the Tower of Power Church for a positive evening," Cookie West added.