He played an integral role in the firm, becoming its president this year.
This made the news that West would leave, effective June 1, to take the $115,000-a-year Smithsonian job bittersweet for his colleagues.
"It's terrible," says co-worker Stetson, only partly in jest. "The news came as a big thump in my heart. . . . With Rick leaving, I'd feel sick if I didn't feel so proud."
For the next year or two, West plans to commute on weekends from Washington to New Mexico. His wife, Mary Beth--who attended Stanford Law School with Rick and today is an expert in international law--is obliged to stay a year as a law professor at New Mexico State University. His 15-year-old daughter, Amy, is vehement about finishing high school in Albuquerque.