Lewis West Oehmig, Jr. peacefully departed on Saturday, March 25, 2017, surrounded by his four children and loving family members. At 67, the intrepid world traveler took his final and greatest journey yet.
Born to Lew and Mary Oehmig on Aug. 3, 1949, and brother to the late King Oehmig, West was a lifelong resident of Lookout Mountain, Tn. He attended Baylor School through 1967 and continued his studies at the University of Virginia, graduating in 1971. As a member of St. Anthony Hall, his years at Virginia were marked by daring and occasionally dangerous revelry that would form the fabric of innumerable memories and enduring friendships. He is best remembered for his charm, generosity, and ever-loving spirit. As a student, West developed a passion for art and art history, pursuits that would remain meaningful throughout his life. Post-graduate jaunts across the country led West and his notorious band of outlaws from Winter Park to A Bar A to Wild Acres, where he would meet his loving wife-to-be, Regina Matthews. Married in 1978, West and Gina would make their family home on Lookout Mountain and welcome to the world sons, Lewis, Matt, and William and his daughter, Zeen.
With an entrepreneurial spirit guided by unbridled optimism and a singular charm, West embarked on a lifelong career in the travel industry. He acquired Tennessee Valley Travel Agency and transformed a sleepy, small shop into a premier travel powerhouse that served a number of businesses in the area, booking luxury leisure travel vacations for his myriad friends in Chattanooga and beyond. West and his expert staff propelled the business to new heights. He would later serve as chairman of the advisory board for API/Virtuoso, a premier global travel consortium comprised of the top travel experts, agents, and suppliers from around the world. In later years, he opened the doors to Oehmig Travel Consultancy and continued his contributions to the industry with his wealth of knowledge and experience.
West regarded the experience of travel as essential to the development of character and spirit. To immerse himself in a new and different culture, even briefly, meant sharpening the senses to the wonders of creation - from trekking the Himalayas with the native Sherpa to ascending the peak of the Matterhorn, from sharing the spiritual rituals with the Maasai tribe of Kenya to exploring the relics and tombs of ancient Egypt. From Cartagena to Katmandu, from the Scottish Highlands to the beaches of Normandy, West would cultivate in himself and others a deep appreciation for the experiences, histories, and peoples of the world.
At home, West took delight in hunting and fishing at Blue Springs, where he served as president for a decade. He enjoyed playing golf and cards in the company of his close friends and hosting Sunday dinners for his family. In his quieter moments, West enjoyed reading, writing, and painting - amassing a catalogue of watercolors from his adventures abroad. He was an avid storyteller and entertainer, bringing a joyful and lively energy to all of those around him. He would recount his experiences in terms alternately numinous, clever, and unforgettable. He wore a smile you could see a mile and lived his life with the glass half full - almost always with bourbon on the rocks with a splash. In his last months, his friends often said, “We cannot imagine a world without West.” The legacy of love and memories that West leaves behind is immeasurable.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Lewis West Oehmig and Mary King Oehmig; his brother, Henry King Oehmig, and his wife, Regina Matthews Oehmig.
He is survived by his three sons, Lewis West Oehmig III, Neil Matthews Oehmig, William McRedmond King Oehmig, and his daughter, Mary Frances Christine Oehmig.
The family visitation and memorial service will be held on Wednesday, March 29, at The Church of the Good Shepherd on Lookout Mountain.
The visitation will be held from 1:30-2:30 p.m. and the service will begin at 2:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made in West’s honor to The Chambliss Center for Children at 315 Gillespie Rd. Chattanooga, Tn. 37411.
Please visit www.heritagechattanooga.com to share words of comfort to the family.
Arrangements are by Heritage Funeral Home.