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Neil J. Westen

Neil J. Westen

Neil J. Westen, passed away on March 25, 2007, at his home in Oakland, Ore.

Neil was born June 13, 1931 to Philip and Pauline Westen in New York City, N.Y.

Neil married Elizabeth Barnes in 1989 in Medford, Ore. He was formerly married to Beverly Luff (Nighorn) with whom he had two daughters.

Neil served — years in the U.S. Navy from 1952 to 1956. He was a lifelong actor, from his earliest roles in the "Our Gang" and "Little Rascals" comedies to his later years on stage in many Ashland community theater productions. Neil also worked as a teacher/counselor for 20 years in private schools for troubled youth in California and Idaho before his retirement in 1988.

Neil moved to Ashland from the Redding, Calif. area in 1988. He was active in local community theatre and served on the Board of the Native American Cultural Center. His wife, Elizabeth, was the director of business services at Southern Oregon University from 1987 to 1999.

Neil and Elizabeth moved to Oakland from the Ashland area in 1999. In Oakland, Neil was the founder and co-editor of the Oakland Community Newsletter, on the Board of the Douglas County Aids Council, a member of the Washington Heights Literary Group, artistic director of the Oakland Community Theatre, and host of the annual Oakland Poetry Reading. His wife, Elizabeth, was the program manager for Seniors and People with Disabilities for the State Department of Human Services in Roseburg. She retired in 2006 after 31 years of state service.

Neil is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Barnes of Oakland, Ore.; daughters, Deborah Elliott of Ashland, Ore. and Deidre Westen of Kelseyville, Calif.; grandchildren, Lisa Elliott of Eugene, Ore. and Kyle Travis of Kelseyville, Calif.; aunt, Pearl Westen of Woodland Hills, Calif.; and cousin, Geoff Westen of Studio City, Calif.

Neil was preceded in death by his parents, Philip and Pauline Westen of Palm Springs, Calif.; aunt and uncle, Lynne and Ted Steinberg of Palm Springs, Calif.; uncle, Al Westen of Las Vegas, Nev.

A private family memorial is planned. Memorial contributions can be made to C.A.T.S. (Committed Alliance to Strays), in Medford, OR, or to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Daedalus Project, in Ashland, Ore.