Merle Best(1917-2013)

On May 14, 2013 Merle Frank Best passed away at the age of 95.
Merle was born in Stockton, CA on December 21, 1917. He was raised in Linden, CA by his dad and mom Frank and Marie Best on Best Road.
Merle graduated from Linden High in 1935. In 1941 Merle attended and graduated from United Aircraft Training School in Wichita, Kansas, subsequently going to work at Lockheed Vega Aircraft Factory building aircraft during World War II.
In 1942 he married Wilma Kautz, daughter of Fred and Marie Kautz also of Linden. They established their first home in Glendale California, where on their property they converted an abandoned chicken coop into Christian congregation meeting place.
On January 7, 1943 they added a daughter, Jeraldine Marie Best, to their immediate family.
After the war they moved to a home in Lockeford, California where on February 7, 1946 they added a son, Daniel Merle Best, to their family.
Subsequent homes were on Live Oak Road, Corinth Avenue and Bear Creek Road, all in Lodi, California.
Gifted and inventive in all things mechanical, his vocational life was centered on fixing things. His work included operating his own garage business, and employment at Grayco Tractor, L.G. Brown Oldsmobile, Gordon and Hansen Tractor, and John Kautz Farms.
Merle was a devoted church and family man, active as a leader with his children in School, Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Luther League Youth, and church Sunday school activities. His family has attended American Emanuel Lutheran Church in Lodi from its beginnings where he served in various leadership positions.
After semi-retiring 1984, Merle and wife Wilma spent many years traveling in their motor-home to all 50 States visiting every capital, popular tourist and historical site that they could. Devoted to loving each other and their family, Merle and Wilma celebrated their 71st Wedding Anniversary this year.
Merle was a wonderful and loving Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, Uncle, Friend and Brother-in-law. Love and patience were among his greatest virtues. He was always witty, friendly, and was never known to raise his voice in anger. He woke up every morning with a song in his head. His mind was keen and sharp right to the last minutes of his life. Unfortunately his body did not keep in pace.
He is survived and greatly missed by his wife Wilma Kautz Best; his daughter Jeraldine Dryden and husband John of Stockton; his son Daniel Best and wife Renae of Sacramento; his grandchildren John Dryden, Joanne Dryden, Angela Anderson and Danielle Best; and his great grandchildren Robert Himle, Elisa, LauraLee & Jacob Fedi, Tiernan and Torston Anderson.
Celebration of Life Services will be held at Emanuel Lutheran Church 1540 W. Lodi Ave. on Monday May 20, 2013 at 6:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Emanuel Lutheran Youth Group.

Published in Lodi News-Sentinel on May 17, 2013