Of the many stories that I covered as a young reporter for KKYX News in the 1970s, one of the strangest has to be the day I saw Sandra Ilene West buried in her Ferrari.
Sandra West was the young widow of Texas oil man, Ike West, when she died of an accidental overdose in California. As part her will, the Beverly Hills socialite had specifically requested her brother-in-law to bury her reclined in her favorite car, a powder blue Ferrari. And to complicate the story further, there were reports that she had written several wills.
For many weeks after her death, the lawyers first argued over which of the several wills was, in fact, her last will and testament. Then after that was decided, the lawyers next argued over whether she really wanted to be buried in her car.
The court eventually ruled that those were indeed her true wishes, and that’s how I found myself standing one sunny morning at the West family plot in the Masonic Cemetery on E. Commerce on the day she was to be put to rest.
I remember passing the time with my friend Ed Glossen, a reporter from the San Antonio Light. Neither one of us knew what to expect. And neither did dozens of the curious gawkers who had suddenly appeared as well. Pretty soon the whole scene took on a carnival-like atmosphere. The crowd had come to see a show. They would not be disappointed.
A little later that morning, I witnessed one of the strangest funeral processions in San Antonio history. Leading up the caravan was a funeral home limo, followed by a truck mounted crane. Next came a flatbed truck with a large gray wooden crate strapped on. Following nearby were the cement trucks.
There was nothing written on the drab crate to indicate that there a Ferrari inside, or that it served as an elaborate coffin. To me it looked as though it could be holding machinery of some sort. It had to be her, I reasoned. Why would anyone want to bury machine parts in a cemetery?
Using the crane, the workers then carefully lowered the crate into the large funeral pit where it remains to this very day. I left to file my story before the concrete trucks would finish their work, but the funeral directors did assure us that Sandra Ilene West indeed had been buried according to her wishes: dressed in a lacy night gown, comfortably reclined in the seat of her powder blue Ferrari.
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