Early Years

William F. “Bill” West was born in 1875 on the family homestead in Chehalis.  He was the youngest of seven children born to an English immigrant and one of the area’s original pioneers, William West.  The elder Mr. West’s many accomplishments included involvement in city and county government and organizing the first Chehalis School District.

The First of Many Gifts

In 1949 W.F. West gave the Chehalis School District the land that is the current site of W.F. West High School.  This gift coinicided with the 1949 earthquake that did severe damage to the Chehalis High School building that was located at the corner of Market and Main Street.

A New School is Built

The building that currently houses W.F. West High School was completed in 1951, and was called Chehalis High School at the time.  In 1953 the Chehalis District athletic field was officially named the William F. West Athletic Field.  On September 19, 1957 Chehalis High School was officially renamed W.F. West High School.

The school district was the beneficiary of many more gifts from Mr. West and his wife Blanche.  Among these gifts were capital improvements to the school site.  From 1950 to 1963, the West family gave more than $40,000 to Chehalis schools.

A Final, Enduring Legacy

Mr. West died in 1963 at the age of 87.  Mrs. West died in 1969 at the age of 88.  Following her death, the students of Chehalis received a final gift from the Wests.  The William F. and Blanche E. West scholarship trust was established in 1969.  The graduating class of 1970 was the first group to receive a West scholarship.

The W.F. West and John Freeman Coffman endowments were eventually merged to create a scholarship fund that has benefited thousands of W.F. West graduates.

Read More About It

In 1993 W.F. West Students Mike Bland, Cana Libby, Phil Pankow and Alan Wessman wrote “The Ultimate, Unsurpassable, Top-of-the-Line Study in Perfection in Presenting the History of W.F. West High School. CLICK HERE to read that history lesson.

Image of W.F. West

This portrait of William F. West is displayed in the high school that bears his name

Image of W.F. West

This picture, from the November 8, 1957 edition of the Crimson and Gray student newspaper, shows Mr. & Mrs. West at the left, and Chester Rhodes, superintendent, at the renaming ceremony for the high school

Image of W.F. West crest

The Indian symbol for “river” and the arrowhead signify the Indian heritage from which Chehalis is derived.

The book and torch symbolize the academic and extra-curricular programs of the school. The torch also depicts the Statue of Liberty which used to mark the entrance to the high school and today can be found in the library.

The trees portray the surroundings of the Chehalis area and stand for the lumber, farming, and recreational facilities of the valley.

The interlocking triangles personify the relationship between the student body, faculty, and community. The triangles also typify the three mountains visible in the distance.

Image of W.F. West crest

In a literal sense, a bearcat is a actually a binturong, a wolverine-like animal from southeast asia. 

Another explanation of how our mascot came to be relates to the early pioneers, who called cougars bearcats.  This would tie in with our school colors of crimson and gray, the colors for Washington State University.

The W.F. West Bearcat

Our current bearcat symbol is a hybrid between a cougar and bobcat head.

Bearcat art