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James Boyette Best

April 9, 1926 - April 27, 2018

James Boyette Best passed away on April 27, 2018 at the age of 92 years.  A native of Wallace, North Carolina, James was a retiree of the United States Armed Forces having served on active duty with the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force.

In 1943, he enlisted in the navy and was assigned to the Destroyer Escort USS Thomas. During his tour of duty the ship was credited with sinking three U-Boats in the Atlantic Ocean. Following the end of World War II, James enrolled in Pilot Cadet Training at Chapel Hill and received a commission as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force. During the conflict in Korea, he flew wounded soldiers from Korea to medical facilities in Hawaii. While stationed at Hickham Field in Hawaii, James met and married Hazel Ferrell in 1950. He was a devoted husband to Hazel until her death in 2004.

James retired with the rank of Captain from military service in 1964 to Salem, Oregon. During his post-military years, James pursued his lifelong interest in the restoration of vintage cars, participation in classic auto clubs, competitive target shooting, and practicing his skills at oil and watercolor painting. He was a lifelong learner and loved reading books on historical events and listening to a wide variety of music. At the age of 87 he also took up the practice of playing the ukulele.  In good health all his life, he was able to live an active and independent lifestyle until his passing.

James’ eldest child Dianne Gray passed on in 2012. He will be greatly missed by his surviving family: daughter Barbara Hasart, sons James Best and David Best, his four grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren in all of whom he instilled a love of learning, commitment to community, and appreciation of nature.

Along with his dedication and support of family, James will be missed for his sense of humor, his sharp intellect--including an exceptional ability to recall dates and facts, his keen eye for detail, appreciation of quality in all things, generosity, and willingness to support others.

A graveside memorial service with military honors will be at held at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon, Tuesday, May 8th at 1:00 pm.

Viewing will be at Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service in Salem Sunday, May 6 and Monday, May 7 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

A Celebration of Life is planned for May 19th at 1:00 pm at Fruitland Community Church and all who knew James are welcome. To honor James' life and his commitment to others, the family suggests memorial donations be made to Fruitland Community Church for their support of community outreach programs.

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