Veterans program Saturday at Barrett’s Landing

Published 9:25 am Friday, November 11, 2011


SUFFOLK—Though she’s never so much as lifted a gun in combat or marched in drill formation at boot camp, Bessie Best is quite familiar with those and most other aspects of military life.

Best, 76, is the wife, mother, sister and in-law to men who have served our country, many of whom will be recognized today for Veterans Day.

The Southampton County native and her husband, Clayton Louis Best, 78, live in the South Quay section of Suffolk. Serving in the Army, Clayton Best fought in the Korean Conflict.

Their son, Curtis Francis Best, was in the Marine Corps, at one time stationed at Camp LeJeune, N.C. An accident involving a drunken driver disabled him and cut his career short. Today, Curtis Best lives in Suffolk and works at Ashland in Southampton County.

“I’m a great supporter of the veterans and the military. We all are,” Bessie Best said.

Her brothers, James Francis and Bobby C. Francis, served in the Army, and Gilbert Francis was in the Air Force for about 30 years; all are deceased.

Many of Bessie Best’s husband’s kin, all formerly of Franklin, also did their part in the military

Curtis Wilson Best Sr. fought with the Navy in World War I. He was father to Clayton, Harry Lee, who served in the Army during World War II; Curtis Best Jr., an Army paratrooper; and Ervin Carrol, who served in the Air Force.

All but Ervin Carrol are deceased.

Bessie Best remembers when her son joined up.

“It wasn’t a surprise,” she said. “There was a recruiter at high school. One of the kids he knew talked about joining, and after he did, Curtis got more interested. It about broke my heart when he left. He had just got out of high school. Oh, what a day.”

Bessie Best has no misgivings about this or other family members who have served.

“It’s a worthy career and service to the country,” she said. “But you’ve got to be cut out for it, no doubt about that.”