Who Was Sandra West?
Sandra Ilene West was born January 2, 1939 in Beverly Hills, California. Her parents owned and operated a children's clothing store where Sandra often watched the wealthy and famous come and go. Growing up she realized that her dream was to become just like them- wealthy and famous! As she grew older, her looks attracted many men including Frank Sinatara and even Elvis Presley. She eventually started to date an heir to a wealthy oil family from Texas named Sol West. Sol was said to be quite the ladies man and wasn't very faithful to Sandra. Realizing this and eventually finding out that Sol had an older brother who was the true heir- she left Sol in search of his wealthy older brother Ike.
Marriage to Ike West
Ike West had disappointed his wealthy parents too many times with his obsessive drug habits and alcohol abuse. So in order to keep him from ruining his family's reputation, they sent him off to live in Mexico with his body guard. When Sandra found out about the wealthy heir, she decided to travel down to Mexico and meet Ike West. And with "loving patience" Sandra cleaned up Ike and convinced his family that he had turned over a new leaf and was ready to take the reigns of the company- with of course with her by his side. They were married shortly thereafter and moved to California to live the high life.
Sandra West, Beverly Hills Socialite
With this new life came the trappings of 1960s excess, a Beverly Hills Mansion, flashy clothes and fast cars. Shortly after her arrival, Sandra came to own the car that would make her famous, a 1964 Ferrari 330 America s/n 5055. Her blue America was imported by Chinetti Motors and appears to have been with the West’s throughout their stay in California. The West’s lived the 60s fast life but it didn’t last for Ike Jr. He had a history of drug use and health problems caused by rapid weight fluctuation. He died under mysterious circumstances at the Las Vegas Flamingo Hotel in 1968. With his demise, his widow now became known to the press as “Sandra West, Beverly Hills Socialite and Heiress”.
She dated a slew of entertainers (including singer Engelbert Humperdinck) and generally lived the high life. During the 1960s she was known as fun loving with a fondness for attention grabbing behavior. Never one for subtlety, she was seen about town dressed in large amounts of jewelry and a mink coat or in a “Texas Rodeo Queen” ensemble complete with rhinestones and a stylish hat. She motored to society events and dinners in one of a fleet of cars that included a Stutz Blackhawk and at least three Ferraris, the 330 America, a 1969 365GT 2+2 and a 1973 Dino. On one occasion she drove in all her finery to Chasen’s, the landmark Beverly Hills eatery frequented by Johnny Carson and the Reagan’s, where she made a grand entrance, and then ordered a hamburger to go and sped away.
Though Ms. West’s behavior would seem to be that of an extrovert, her associates (sadly, mostly doctors, nurses and lawyers) described her as lonely person with few true friends. She was known to give extravagant gifts to those who provided some small service to her. Shortly before her death she presented a $250,000 platinum and diamond cross to a part time nurse. Most gifts were unconditional, but she saved her most sizable gift, a gift worth millions, for one who would render a service to her and her favorite Ferrari.
Egyptology and the Writing of the Will
Sandra became obsessed with the ancient Egyptians and their practices of being buried with their world possessions. She thought if they could do it- she would as well! So as she became more a recluse inside of her house and cut the outside world from her presence, she began to create a will that would one day shock the world.
Unfortunately soon after Sandra wrote her will, she passed away from a mix of her previous injuries she had sustained from a car wreck and her abuse of drugs. She was only 38 years old. When her will was discovered, Sol West (her previous lover and now brother-in-law) was charged with the commission to have her be buried in her favorite powder blue Ferrari, in her white lace nightgown with the seat comfortably reclined. She also wanted to be buried next to her husband in their family cemetery plot in San Antonio, Tx. And if he did not follow these instructions he would not inherit the rest of their fortune. Sol was furious he had to comply with his sister-in-laws ridiculous will, so he went to court. But after three months, the court ordered him to do as Sandra had asked.
Burial of Sandra West
Sandra's body was dug up from a temporary grave in California, dressed in her white night gown and seated in the front seat of her Ferrari, with the chair comfortably reclined. She and the car were put into a large wooden box that was then driven on the back of a semi all the way to San Antonio, Texas.
On May 19, 1977 Sandra Ilene West finally received the funeral she desired in the glare of television lights and in front of over 150 spectators. The box containing Ms. West and her beloved Ferrari 330 America was lowered into the 20 foot long grave and then covered with cement. The funeral director indicated that the cement was added as the cemetery was in a high crime area and he feared the car would be back on the street in a day!
Today the blue Ferrari, the 1964 330 America s/n 5055 and its owner rest together under a simple stone at the San Antonio Masonic Cemetery, likely the most bizarre if not the most famous burial in San Antonio's history.
Find out more about Sandra West and others buried in the Eastside Cemetery District during Sisters Grimm Annual Halloween Cemetery Tours in October.
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The Sisters Grimm offers award winning ghost tours in San Antonio, TX