Deseret News Promotion Manager Keith West knows the true meaning of the phrase "business before pleasure."
Just ask him about the day he had a gallbladder attack, but refused to go to the hospital until after the July 24 Deseret News Marathon was completed.For the past 18 years, West has overseen the marathon - a 26-mile race held each July 24 (except this year when it will be held on the 25th) in conjunction with Pioneer Day festivities.
For each of those past marathons, West has, without fail, rolled out of bed at an hour even birds consider obscene and traveled to the race's starting line up Parleys Canyon to see that the race gets off to a good start. He then spends the rest of the morning at the finish line, waiting for the winners and helping wrap up the event.
But on July 24, 1986, West woke up at 1 a.m. with severe gallbladder pains. Although he'd had gallbladder trouble before, he decided to ignore the pain because his wife Marjorie would insist on taking him to the hospital, and he didn't want to miss the race. About eight hours later, as he and a radio announcer were waiting at the finish line in Liberty Park to broadcast the names of the winners, he collapsed. The next day he had his gallbladder removed and spent four days in the hospital.
But the close-call didn't dim his enthusiasm for his job. He still organizes the marathon every year and will be at the starting line again Monday when the race begins at 5:15 a.m. He even has a quilt hanging on his office wall made up of all the different Deseret News Marathon T-shirts.
Although coordinating the marathon is tough, it's just one of the many jobs he performs at the Deseret News. West is also in charge of coordinating all promotional activities, as well as conducting tours and organizing special projects. He said his job is never boring because he is always changing projects and dealing with new people. Fortunately, strenuous activities, like the marathon, happen only once a year.
"I've been in this job for 32 years. Before that I worked in sports and the library part-time while I was going to school," said West, who now works with a wide variety of people, ranging from Cub Scouts to athletes.
During his tenure at the Deseret News, West has witnessed the coming and going of many staff members and the progression of newspaper production. He remembers when the news was typeset one line at a time, at a rate of 8 to 12 lines a minute. Now the job is done on computers capable of typesetting the news at a rate of 3,000 words per minute.
But one of West's favorite yearly projects isn't included in his job description - when he and Marjorie double as Santa and Mrs. Claus every year at Christmas.
The two make an appearance at the Deseret News Christmas party, and visit day-care centers, schools and church groups."It's fun to see bright-eyed youngsters tell you what they want for Christmas."
He and Marjorie have five children, ranging in age from 19 to 32.