Nothing’s the same when you’re part of society’s upper crust—not even the afterlife, apparently. Sandra Ilene West was known for being somewhat eccentric all her life. As part of Beverly Hills’s social elite, she had the money to do just about anything she wanted on any given day. And nothing changed when it came time to her final requests.
See, when Sandra passed away, she had quite the unique burial request. It was so outlandish, in fact, that it made waves across the country! Just wait until you hear what the heiress wanted to be done to her when she was in the ground…
When a loved one dies, family members try to do their best to fulfill any last requests as part of the deceased’s last will and testament. Most of the time those wishes are simple, but when someone’s lived glamorously, their requests can get pretty bizarre…
Sandra Ilene Hara West grew up in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, California, in the 1940s. Born to Ezra and Susan Hara, who owned and operated a children’s clothes shop on Beverly Drive, Sandra was familiar with the finer things in life from a young age.
Eventually, Sandra met and married Ike West, Jr., an oil tycoon from Texas. Sandra was used to a lavish lifestyle thanks to her Beverly Hills upbringing, but that was nothing compared to the life of luxury she would lead with Ike.
The two spent the majority of their time in Beverly Hills, and when Ike died in 1968, Sandra’s passion for the finer things took on epic proportions. She was known throughout Beverly Hills for her eccentric ways, but there was one fact about Sandra that elevated her to legendary status—and it had to do with her death.
Sandra was adamant that she be buried in her blue Ferrari after she died. While this request would have seemed completely absurd to most, Sandra upheld no pretense about her desire to remain as glamorous in death as she was in life.
My San Antonio
People often thought the request was a joke, but they didn’t really know Sandra. According to her handwritten will, she didn’t only want to buried in her 1964 powder blue Ferrari 330 America; she wanted to be wearing her “lace nightgown” while reclined to “a comfortable angle” in the front seat.
When Sandra passed away in 1977 at the age of 38, her last will and testimony were turned over to her brother-in-law, Sol West, to carry out. When Sol discovered that Sandra’s request was in writing—and not just a joke—he was flabbergasted.
Sol did not want Sandra to be buried in such a fashion, but Sandra’s will made sure it was done exactly how she wanted. She wrote that if Sol did not honor her request, he would receive a paltry $2,000 from her estate. However, if he did honor it, that amount would increase to $10,000.
Still, Sol couldn’t believe that a handwritten will with such a ridiculous request could possibly hold up in court, so he brought the document before a judge to get a ruling. The judge wasted no time at all reaching a decision: the will was binding.
After a temporary burial during which legal details were ironed out, Sandra finally got her final wish. She was buried—propped up in the front seat of her car at San Antonio’s Alamo Masonic Lodge Cemetery—while a crowd of curious onlookers watched the whole thing.
The witnesses at the cemetery weren’t the only ones who knew about the unusual burial that day. It was actually aired live on the news, as well! Pretty soon, most of country knew about the event.
Once the box containing Sandra’s corpse and her beloved sports car were lowered into the ground, a team of men covered the entire gravesite with concrete. Grave robbery wasn’t common in San Antonio—but neither was burying a valuable collectible car.
Poured concrete might have sounded like an extreme measure, but when you consider that this car is worth around $493,000 today, you can see why the family decided to add extra security measures to the gravesite!
The crowd that gathered at the cemetery had hoped to get a glimpse of Sandra herself, dressed up in her finest negligee and seated at the wheel of the car, but they were in for a very big disappointment on that front…
While other car fans have had their beloved vehicles (and their corpses) placed directly into the ground after their deaths, Sol West did not want to turn his late sister-in-law’s death into a spectacle.
Instead, Sol smartly made sure that Sandra, her nightgown, and her precious car were all placed inside a hermetically sealed box. This didn’t just keep her safe from prying eyes, but it also preserved her remains and the car they were resting in.
For all of her larger-than-life qualities and taste for fancy things, Sandra was a devoted wife. She never truly recovered from the death of her beloved husband, Ike West Jr., nine years earlier.
That was why instead of being buried at her home in Beverly Hills, she requested that she be buried next to her husband in the family plot back in San Antonio. It was a sweet gesture that was often overlooked in her story.
During her prime, Sandra was a bit of a celebrity. She was rumored to have dated Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, but it wasn’t until she met Ike West that she realized she’d finally found her match in love.
A zest for life led to Ike’s early death, and later on it would be the cause of Sandra’s as well. Inspired by the pharaohs of Egypt, she saw her burial as one last grand gesture for the masses before joining her husband in the great beyond!
What a tragic—but strangely fascinating—story. Though Sandra West is mainly remembered for the way she was buried, it sounds like the way she lived was just as intriguing!
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