Augusta, Maine — Paul Sweetser Best Jr., age 92, died on May 8, 2013, at the Maine Veteran's Home in Augusta, Maine, following a short illness.
Born July 25, 1920, in New Brunswick, N.J., he was the first child of Paul Sweetser Best Sr. and Elizabeth Knoke Best. He graduated from Rutgers University in 1951 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. His college education was delayed by the Great Depression and his service in WWII.
Mr. Best enlisted in the Army in 1942 and was assigned to serve in the Signal Corps. He was transferred to Signal Intelligence and served in England with a small group of American GIs to work with the British in breaking the German Enigma Code. His group received a citation for breaking a portion of the German code which enabled the Allied forces to break through the German lines at St. Lo in July 1944. Those who worked on the Enigma kept the secret from family and friends until it was finally declassified in the mid-1970s. While at Rutgers, he received a commission as a Second Lt. in the Army Signal Corps Reserve. He retired as a Lt. Colonel in 1972.
Following graduation from college, he worked as an engineer for Mack Truck Corporation, and later for General Electric in Schenectady, N.Y., and Lynn, Mass. He was able to attend Boston College Law School through a generous company program while working at GE. He received his law degree in 1962. Following further service with GE, he opened his own law practice in Topsfield, Mass., and joined the law firm of Russell, Plummer and Rutherford.
Following his retirement, he and his wife Connie moved to Yarmouth and then to South Bristol, Maine. He led a full, interesting and active life. He volunteered for many years both in Massachusetts and Maine for the American Lung Association, and served on the National Board. An avid reader, he loved history and the Opera, and will be remembered for his beautiful bass singing voice. A music lover, he was a choir member and soloist at several churches throughout his life and with the Coastal Chorale and with the Lincoln Festival Chorus. An enthusiastic mountain climber, he completed the New England 4,000 footers at the age of 74 with his children.
While living in South Bristol he was active in the local Democratic Party, CONA and volunteered as a Mediator for the Consumer Protection Division of the Maine Attorney General’s office until he was 90 and was a founding member of Amnesty International in Yarmouth, Maine. He was an active Rotarian for many years, most recently as a member of the Damariscotta/Newcastle, and was named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International. A storyteller, he loved serving as a docent at the Old Jail in Wiscasset and at the Chapman Hall house in Damariscotta.
After 25 happy years on Bradstreet Cove in South Bristol, Paul and Connie moved to Granite Hill Estates in Hallowell in 2008.
He is survived by five children, Paul III of Stratham, N.H., Rebecca Best Randall, Richard of Beverly, Mass., Jonathan and his wife, Ellen, of Middleton, Mass., and Sara Best of Ellenton, N.D.; 12 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; his first wife, Grace C. Best of Topsfield, Mass.; his loving wife, Connie of Augusta; and her three caring children, Pam Post (Michael) of Hobe Sound, Fla., Peter Blanchard (April) of Winthrop, and Carolyn Goudreau (Marc) of Huntington Vt.; and four loving grandchildren.
ARRANGEMENTS: According to his wishes, his body was donated to medical research. Memorial services were held at Granite Hill Estates on May 19 at 2 p.m., and at South Bristol Union Church in June, date to be announced. Memorial contributions may be made to The Carpenter’s Boat Shop Apprenticeship Program, 440 Old County Road, Pemaquid, ME 04558.