The nation will pause Monday to celebrate Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for those who died in service to our country.
A Wyandot County man, Sgt. John F. Best, was the first Ohio State Highway Patrolman to lose his life in the line of duty. According to “The First 60 Years: A History of Service 1933-1993” published by the OSHP, Best, who was chief of the Highway Patrol radio station WPGG in Findlay, died June 17, 1935 when he was electrocuted while testing a receiving set at the broadcasting station. Best was believed to have come into contact with separate wires connecting an analyzer through which 700 volts could have been flowing. A crew of rescuers worked nearly five hours, but were unsuccessful in reviving him.
Best’s niece, Carol (Best) Frey, of Upper Sandusky, represented the family during an Ohio State Highway Patrol Memorial Service earlier this month in Columbus, when all troopers who died in the line of duty were honored.
“It was an honor to represent the family at the ceremony,” Frey said. “They introduced each person who was there to represent the deceased. Forty-four people were honored. They presented a rose to everybody and a State Patrol flag.
“The ceremony was just beautiful,” Frey added. “They had a flyover and the bagpipes playing. A state trooper marched each of us out and announced us.”
Best was a resident of Salem Township. Born May 25, 1906, Best was a son of the late Frank and Annie Best. He was a graduate of Salem High School and a member of OSHP’s first academy class, which graduated Nov. 15, 1933.
Best’s brother, the late Virgil Best, was Frey’s father.
“I never knew my uncle,” Frey said. “He died before I was born. He is buried at Salem St. Joseph Heritage Catholic Church in Salem Township.”
Best and all the other troopers who were killed in the line of duty have their names engraved on a wall at the State Highway Patrol Memorial in Columbus. The name of Trooper Andrew Baldridge, of Carey, who was killed in 2010 when his cruiser crashed while responding to a call for help, also is on the wall.
Frey is Best’s closest surviving relative who still lives in Wyandot County. Best’s daughter Jackie Cartright lives in Michigan.
By CHANDA NEELY