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Because You Are Our Family

American Patriotic 10


Tadeusz Bruce Westawic

May 26, 1949 ~ December 1, 2018 (age 69)

Tadeusz Bruce Westawic  (AKA Tom West, AKA Bruce Hillman, AKA Dos Gatos, AKA Djadji) passed to a Rest Station of Eternity in the early morning hours of December 1, 2018. Tom was a man who believed in everyday magic and brought joy to others. A purveyor of tall tales, and craftsman of excruciating puns, he would recite meaningful and sometimes heartbreakingly appropriate bits of song lyrics, poetry, and prose, his knowledge of which seemed limitless.He was acatburglar of the top cup of fresh coffee, a master of stealth whiskey, a memory engineer, and connoisseur of fine marijuanas.  As a dad, he shared a special bond with each of his children whether by birth, by the heart or by arrival at the front door throughout his journey. He woke the house on Saturdays with a silly song, threatened laggards with a bag of cement, and had no mercy counting ribs. Turtle races, face plates, fireworks, fungi, and fossils were the devious tools of his trade to be the best Dad and Grandpa Djadji ever. Crystals, rocks, marbles, tops,magnets, and magnifying lenses were the weapons against boredom that filled his pockets. He relished children creating anything at all from any material handy.

Tom was originally from South River, NJ and spent the last 30 years and 10 months in Silver City, NM. He volunteered for the U S Army and served from 1967 to 1969. While in the Army he earned the National Defense Service Medal, Sharpshooter Rifle M14, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Purple Heart, and is a Life Member of the VFW. He graduated from Monmouth College (now Monmouth University) in West Long Branch, NJ, in 1973 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Science for Computer Science and Math. After college he worked for companies like Mathematica and Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Greater Philadelphia doing work in statistics and systems analysis. In 1988, he had had enough of office life and packed the family into a 16 ft travel trailer and traveled cross country, exploring historic places and looking for a place that would satisfy his Muse. On the advice of a fellow traveler, confirmed by rainbow sightings, Silver City became the destination. He worked several years at SWSH teaching woodshop and helping create client-made products for market, taught GED math at Western NM University for several years and started a second round of college courses, this time seeking to become the potter he always dreamed of being.

Many people know him as simply Tadeusz…the name he signed on the bottom of the smoky raku pots he called Hamonraku, named after the pattern that fire created on sword metal in tempering. He was a member of San Vicente Artists and a Founding Member and officer of Yankie Creek Gallery for 13 years.

Love was the message he strove to convey.  Love of family, love of art, love of music, love of literature, love of nature, and love of country. He insisted “You need to go through life holding your heart out in your hand. Sure, it will get stepped on, but if you don’t you will never meet others like you.”  He thought chasing rainbows and always clapping for Tinkerbelle was essential to life.

Tom is survived by his wife, Victoria J West, his mother, Stephanie Stella Hillman, both of Silver City. He is also survived by many loved and cherished children and grandchildren, son Joshua Hillman and wife Jerene of Tallahassee, FL daughter Elizabeth Mart and husband Andrew and three grandsons of Nassau, Bahamas, son Jason West and grandson Jason Jr. of Silver City and granddaughter Amber-Krystyn Rachel of Paragould, AR, daughter Patricia West and husbandKing Okiri and grandsons Cyrus and Elijah of Silver City, and daughter Rebecca J West of Chicago, IL. He is also survived by brother in law Richard Kirby of Silver City.

Tom is also survived by niece Sarah Lyman formerly of South River, NJ,nieceDawn Marie Fabian and her husband Mark and grandniece Samantha Ostranderof Savannah, GA and grandniece Nicolette Velasquez of Washington, DC. He is also survived by Nephew James Lovuolo and his wife Annita of Port Charlotte, FL, grand-nephew Luciano “Luca” Lovuolo and grandniece Charlotte Lovuolo of Port Charlotte, FL

He is predeceased by his father, Alfred Zural Hillman formerly of South River, NJ, his younger sister Barbara Hillman Kirby, formerly of South River and his elder sister Patricia Hillman Lovuolo, formerly of Savannah, GA, nephew KennethMichael Lovuolo, formerly of Poconos, PS, and his daughter-in-law, Amanda I. Rodriguez-West, formerly of Silver City.

He also had many cousins and other children he considered to be part of his family. Among them, Michael Munroe, Rick Besecke, Roman Mersino, Leah Frink,and Brian Carson hold a special place.

Because of the importance he placed on education, in lieu of flowers, a Memorial Scholarship in his name will be established at Western New Mexico University. Contributions made in lieu of flowers should be mailed to the Western New Mexico University Foundation, PO Box 1158, Silver City NM 88062. Checks should be made out to the WNMU Foundation with “In memory of Tadeusz B Westawic” in the note section.

Viewing will be Tuesday, December 18, 2018, at Baca's Funeral Chapels in Silver City with Military Honors at 3:00 p.m., Celebration of Life Services immediately following.

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