His friends and family members gave Dallas leader Jeff West a loving sendoff Friday with laughs, toasts, songs and tears. They did it at the South Side Music Hall, one after another taking the microphone to recall the Matthews Southwest vice president as a positive, funny renaissance man who played leading roles in everything from the Dallas Theater Center and The Sixth Floor Museum to the Omni Dallas Hotel. West, 54, died suddenly Monday at his desk at Matthews Southwest, a real estate development company.
PR guru Carol Reed said, “Jeff loved a trashy woman, and he loved me!” State Sen. Royce West called West “my brother, by another mother.” Craig Holcomb of Friends of Fair Park told about an outdoor party where Jeff and others made a “conga line in the rain.” Donnie Nelson of the Mavericks, remembering West’s role in South Lamar Street redevelopment, said he “took an eyesore of Dallas and turned it into a place of creativity and beauty and art.”
West’s business associate Jack Matthews, the Matthews Southwest founder, said he shared a “last laugh” with West just yesterday — three days after he died. How could that be? It happened at a big luncheon downtown, Matthews said, when he was introduced to someone as “Jeff West’s partner.” Not knowing, apparently, that Matthews is straight but that West had come out of the closet in the early ’90s, this person said to Matthews, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know Jeff was gay.” At that, Matthews told the Music Hall crowd, “I looked up and laughed. Then I just said, ‘Thank you,’ and moved on.”