W. Jack Best, of Port Washington, died of emphysema and complications, on June 22, 2001. Born in Kansas City, MO, April 5, 1917, he and his family lived there until age 7 when they moved to Burlingame, CA. After graduating from Burlingame High School, he attended Pomona College until he joined Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians.
Jack's career began at the age of 17, where he organized and conducted a youth choir in his home church in Burlingame. Much of his professional life was spent with Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians on radio, television and recording. He was their choral director for 12 years; for over 30 years he taught and directed the Fred Waring music workshops at the Delaware Water Gap, PA., and at Penn State University State College until 1982.
Jack sang on radio and television and made many recordings with such artists as, Toscanini, Robert Shaw, Rise Stevens, Mitch Miller, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. He appeared with the Waring organization at the White House to sing for Queen Elizabeth and Chairman Krushchev as well as President Roosevelt and Eisenhower. He traveled all over the US as a lecturer and guest conductor and has had 15 of his own compositions and arrangements published.
For over two decades he was the minister of music at the Congregational Church of Manhasset, where he very much enjoyed preparing the childrens' choir, Pilgrim Fellowship Choir and the adult choir for services, concerts and recordings. He was an excellent showman, as demonstrated in the many PF shows and secular concerts, but far more frequently his spiritual side was revealed not only in his conducting of major works, such as the Brahms Requiem and the Dvorak Mass, but in the weekly direction of the choir music for worship services.
He was an avid golfer and excelled in the game. He served in the US Army Corps of Engineers as a supply sergeant in the Pacific Campaign during WWII from 1943-1946.
He leaves his beloved wife, Ruth Cottingham Best; his cherished children, Susan Heidi Best of Ithaca, NY, David J. Best of Saugus, CA, Steven E. Best (Ellen) of Henrietta, NY, Lauryn E. Tucker of Alamo, CA; four grandchildren, Sarah, Laura, Zachary and Danile Best; his brother, J. Richard Best (Betty) of Medford, OR; nephew James Best of Mililani, HI; sisters-in-law Betty Cottingham of NY and Joan Cottingham of Westport, CT; and nephew Stuart Cottingham of NY, NY.
A private interment service will be held at Calverton Cemetery. A memorial service will be held July 14 at 2 p.m. at the Congregational Church of Manhasset, 1845 Northern Blvd., Manhasset.