Stanley Lilborn Best was born August 11, 1926 in Tuttle, Oklahoma, one of ten children born to James H. and Carrie Bernice Jackson Best. His father died of a heart attack in 1939, leaving his widow with seven children at home, where they continued to farm. Stanley married Erma Lee Estes in 1946 in Oklahoma; they moved to Sacramento, California where they ran a concrete business before moving to Alaska in 1966 and starting Alaska and Peninsula Ready-Mix in Nikiski.
The Bests had children Starlene, Larry, Terry, Sherry, and Larry.
Nikiski resident Stanley L. Best died Dec. 21, 1997, at Central Peninsula General Hospital in Soldotna. He was 71. Memorial services were held at Aurora Heights Assembly of God in Nikiski. The Revs. Rufus Tallent and Tracy Hodges officiated.
Mr. Best was born Aug. 11, 1926, in Tuttle, Okla., to James Harrison and Carrie Bernice Best. He was one of 10 children. He attended Grady County Schools. At age 17, he entered the Merchant Marine and served for three years before entering the U.S. Army, where he served for six months. Mr. Best married Erma Lee Estes on July 31, 1946. After completing his service in the military, they resided in Chickasha, Okla., where their first son, Larry, was born in 1948. After a move to California, he started his own concrete ready-mix business, which he operated until 1966. He then moved to Kenai with his wife and children. Mr. Best co-owned and operated Peninsula Ready Mix with partners Darrell Snodgrass and Don Estes for a number of years. After selling the business, he and his wife moved to Orland, Calif. They raised Arabian horses and miniature schnauzers for 15 years. In 1995 they moved back to Nikiski. Mr. Best enjoyed gardening, hunting, fishing and camping. He loved visiting with people and sharing stories over a cup of coffee. He was very fond of animals. His family said, ''Stanley will forever be remembered for his love of his family. He was always there to lend a helping hand and give advice or just companionship to those of us who needed it the most. He was a loving brother, husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather and great-grandfather. He will be sorely missed.'' Mr. Best was preceded in death by his infant grandson, Christopher Wayne Best.
He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Erma Best; children and their spouses, Larry and Betty Best, Starlene and Marty Goff, Sherry and Patrick Heath, and Terry and Julie Best, all of Nikiski, and Larry and Nettie Mecum of California; grandchildren and their spouses, Richard and Vonda Best of Anchorage, Melody and Shane Derflinger, Brian and Anita Heath, Brandi Heath, Chera Heath, Dennis Goff, Jason Goff, Jeremy Goff, Amanda Best and Megan Best, all of Nikiski, Gloria Goff, stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, La Nell and Jason Ames and Becky and Jason Slusher of California; great-grandchildren, Dallas and Aurora Derflinger, Driskoll Heath, Shania Best, Alex Ames and Ashley, Amanda and Ian Slusher; sisters, Carolyn Graham of Tucson, Ariz., and Winnie Best of Seward; and many nieces, nephews and good friends. The family asks that donations be sent to the Nikiski Senior Center Garden Fund. Funeral arrangements were by the Peninsula Memorial Chapel in Kenai.
Grave Marker for Stanley and Erma Lee Best
Long time Alaskan Erma Lee Best passed away at the age of 91 on November 12, 2021, after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Erma was born in Amber, OK on March 10, 1930, to William Estes and Hettie (Garrett) Estes. The third of six children born during the Great Depression in rural Oklahoma, Erma would regale the younger generation with talks of her young life experiences from the misery of picking cotton with Band-Aids on every finger, to marriage at the age of 16 to her love of 51 years, Stanley Best who passed in 1997.
Erma and Stan remained close with Erma's three brothers and two sisters and their spouses for those 51 years, taking cruises and trips together and frequently visiting between their homes in Oklahoma, Nevada/ California and Alaska. There was always laughter as they repeated their "remember when" stories while playing cards and dominoes around the kitchen table.
Erma never met a stranger and endeared herself to new acquaintances and old friends. She always put others' needs before her own and loved her family beyond measure. She never feared a challenge nor an opportunity to learn something new. She ran a concrete business with her husband, Stan in Sacramento while raising four children and going to beautician school, where she met her life-long friend Wanda. In 1966 the business moved to Alaska and Peninsula Ready-Mix was started in Nikiski.
Erma worked that first summer at Kenai Packers Cannery and then became a school bus driver for the next 14 years. She was a car-pool mom and sat on bleachers over 60 years from her sons' Little League Baseball, football and basketball games and snowmachine races to her granddaughters' horse shows and barrel races to her great granddaughters' volleyball games and dance recitals.
Erma was a great cook but rarely followed a recipe, a fabulous seamstress, and an avid gardener. She loved animals and her and Stanley bred and raised miniature schnauzers and Arabian horses when they retired to California in 1981-1995. She was also a licensed dog groomer.
After Stan's death she general contracted the construction of her home on Cabin Lake, became a foster parent and joined the Red Hat Society. She liked to travel and spent winters in Tucson/ AZ and visiting family- always with a schnauzer along for company.
Our beloved Erma was preceded in death by her husband Stanley, daughter Starlene, brother Kenneth Estes, sisters Klova Dee Shaw and Joyce Martin, sisters-in-law Diana Estes and Mary Estes, Son¬ in-law Patrick Heath.
Erma is survived by sons Larry (Betty) Best of Nikiski, Terry (Julie) Best of Kenai, daughter Sherry Heath of Soldotna, son Larry (Nettie) Mecum of CA, brothers Leon Estes of CA and Donald Estes of Soldotna, 11 grandchildren,19 great grandchildren, 2 great-great grandchildren and friend Wanda Wilhoit of CA.
An Estes family reunion is planned for Summer of 2022 at which time Erma's ashes will be placed with Stanley's at McGahan Cemetery in Nikiski. No other services are planned.
Erma Lee Best