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June Pelo
02-02-10, 20:54
Frans Henry West died 2 Jan 2010 in Wiscasset, Maine, at the age of 82. He was born 1927 in the Bronx, NY to Frans Vitus Wistbacka and Maria Alice Lytz who emigrated from Terjärv. Frans Vitus changed their name to West. The family returned to Finland in 1932 and Henry grew up with his sister and brother there. He was musically inclined and played the saxophone, clarinet, guitar, and was a member of the dance band "Star Swingers" 1948-1953 in Finland. He returned to America 1953 and sang in the men's choir of the Pilgrims Church in the Bronx. In 1965 he married Saima Härkönen from Alavus. They had a son John Henry who died in 1999 in an accident.

Henry's special memory was when the "Scandinavian Fiddlers", of which group he was a member, was invited to play Scandinavian music for the Swedish King Carl-Gustav and Queen Sylvia when they were guests at the Lincoln Center in NY in 1976.

(Frans) Henry is survived by his wife Saima (Härkönen); sister Lis-Marie and Walter Behnke of CA; brother Erik and Margaret West of PA, and relatives and friends.

LBacklund
16-02-10, 20:01
It was a great pleasure to be part of the trio of musicians who walked around Lincoln Center in 1976: Henry, my father Arvid, and myself. We practiced and performed a special song--Emigrantvalsen--that I still remember. We had prepared at least 10 other songs.

It is with sadness that I read about his death. I remember him fondly.