Pastors' Memoirs

Paul Raymond Best, 1904-1988

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The son of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Best of Indiana County, Pennsylvania, Paul was born February 8, 1904, the oldest of five children. His father was a timberman, and the family moved to Goochland County, Virginia to clear an area of woodland.

Paul graduated from Cardwell High School in Goochland, and from Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, Virginia in 1929. While a college student, he decided to enter the Christian ministry and became a student at Emory University in Atlanta where he received his Bachelor of Divinity degree.

He became a member of the Virginia conference in 1931. The last Journal of the Virginia Annual Conference lists his pastorates as follows: Branch Memorial, Blanford, Franklin Circuit, York, Benns, Monroe Circuit, Mecklenburg, Hickory, Chesapeake Avenue, Chester, Marquis Memorial, Oaklette, and Crittenden: Ebenezer. He and his wife, Frances, became residents of the Hermitage Home in November of 1979.

He soon became well known in the Hermitage for his interests and kindly concern for the ways in which he could be of help to others. Living in a section of the home close at hand to the Via Health Care Center, he and his wife spent many hours together visiting there. It soon became necessary for him to give much concern to his wife's personal needs, and the way in which he lovingly cared for her soon became well known to all in the home. One of his major interests in the Hermitage was to care for the rose beds which continued to produce countless, beautiful blossoms for every occasion. He likewise liked to work with Amaryllis plants and was very successful in restoring beautiful plants which had blossomed previously.

Although Paul retired from the active pastorate in 1970, he continued to serve as a supply pastor at Kenwood Church, Ashland, for several years. Paul was also quite active in organizations within the Hermitage, serving as president of the Residents' Council and as member of the Mens' Chorus, the Rhythmaires, and the Hermitage Brotherhood. He also enjoyed working in the Creative Workshop.

I became acquainted with Paul when I went on to the Norfolk District in the fall of 1953. The following spring, the ministers of the district were planning an overnight retreat at Natural Bridge, Virginia, and we were all assigned to the hotel there. He and I were assigned to a room together, but the regulation for that night was for a "Benedictine silence," not too happy a situation by which strangers could become acquainted. But this was one way by which we could come to learn something about each other's nature. This was good for us as later we traveled together to the Passion Play at Oberammergau, West Germany, and the next year to Israel and Greece.

Paul's vital interest in the work of the church was very well known by those who were closely associated with him. Likewise his great love for his family, for his first wife, Frances, and for his second wife, Mattie Knibb Bugg Best who survives him. Other family members who survive him are a son, Dr. Paul Raymond Best Jr. of Carmel, Calif.; two daughters, Mrs. Frances Meadow of Albany, Ga., and Mrs. Sarah Goyne of Greensboro, N.C.; a stepson, Charles Bugg; two stepdaughters, Mrs. Elsie Lassiter and Mrs. Lucy Ellis; a brother, C. Leroy Best; three sisters, Mrs. Virginia Storey, Mrs. Clara Short, and Mrs. Helen Heinzen; five grandchildren; four step-grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were conducted at Lakeside United Methodist Church May 27, 1988 and he lies buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

--J. Elmore Brown



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