NEW YORK -- Charles Chuck West, a pioneer in the Alaska tourism
market whose work earned him the nickname Mr. Alaska, died Oct. 4
at his cabin in Haines, Alaska. He was 90.
West was the
founder, chairman and CEO of Cruise West until the early 1990s,
when his son Richard became chairman and CEO. He also was the
founder of Westours, a major tour operator in the 49th state that
interwove bus transportation, hotels and cruising. He sold it to
Holland America Line in 1973.
He served as
president of ASTA in 1969 and 1970.
Chuck West was
truly one of Alaskas tourism forefathers, said Ron Peck, president
of the Alaska Travel Industry Association. His vision,
entrepreneurial spirit and passion for Alaska was integral to our
West was working as
a bush pilot in Alaska for Wein Airlines after World War II when he
sold and flew the first all-tourist excursions to Nome and
Kotzeubue, Alaska. He established Arctic Alaska Tours and, in 1951,
moved its operations to Seattle.
In order to more
effectively move visitors around the state, West founded a hotel
chain, motorcoach network and cruise line that sailed Alaskas
Inside Passage. Westours, an umbrella group of Wests various
enterprises, was born in 1957.
West founded Cruise
West in the mid-1980s by offering daylight yacht cruises on the
Sheltered Seas and overnight land accommodations.
West is a member of
the ASTA Travel Hall of Fame. He received the Golden Plate Award
from the American Academy of Achievement, the Alaska Visitors
Association North Star Award and the U.S. Air Force Distinguished
In addition to his
son Richard, West is survived by his wife Marguerite, three
daughters, 12 grandchildren and seven
To contact the
reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Rebecca Tobin at [email protected].