JOHN C. WEST was born in Camden, South Carolina. He graduated with a B.A. from The Citadel in 1942 and received an LL.B. from the University of South Carolina in 1948. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, achieving the rank of Major and receiving the Army Commendation Medal. He was a part-time political science instructor at the University of South Carolina from 1946 to 1948 and practiced law with the firm of West, Holland and Furman from 1948 to 1970. Prior to becoming governor, he held a number of state offices, including South Carolina Highway Commissioner (1948-1952), state Senator (1954-1966) and Lieutenant Governor (1966-1971). West’s other activities have included membership in the Kiwanis Club, the American Legion, the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce, the Coker College Board of Trustees, the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors, the National Governors Association’s Executive Committee (1971-1972), and the Education Commission of the States, which he chaired in 1974 and 1975. He served as the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1977 to 1981 and was a professor of Middle East Studies at the University of South Carolina from 1981 until 2004.