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Dr. George J. Best

July 11, 1916 July 9, 2009
Dr. George J. Best
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Obituary for Dr. George J. Best

PEORIA HEIGHTS-Dr. George J. Best, 92, of Peoria Heights passed away on July 9, 2009 at 1:05 a.m. peacefully at his residence. He was born July 11, 1916 in Peoria to George and Irma Jaeger Best. He married Mary Jean Bickerman at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church in Peoria on June 21, 1941. She survives. Also surviving are two sons. Dr. David (Ann Montgomery) Best and Martin (Theresa Marcus) Best of Peoria; Three granddaughters, Molly (Matthew) DeJohn, Abby (Christopher) Hammes, Katy (Joseph Genzel) Best; three grandsons, Timothy (Marcy) Best, George Best and Michael Best; one step grandson, Joseph Coletta; three great-grandsons, Timothy Best, Anthony DeJohn, Ethan Hammes; two great-granddaughters, Madeline DeJohn, Julianna Hammes and one niece, Kathryn Bickerman Downing. He was preceded in death by one sister, Mary Margaret Best. Dr. Best graduated from St. Mark’s Grade School in 1929, Spalding Institute in 1934 and the University of Notre Dame in 1938 where he earned a B.S. He graduated from the School of Medicine at Northwestern University in 1941. He served his internship at St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis, MO. After his internship he began his residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL. It was interrupted by his enlistment in the Army Air Corps in 1942. While in the Army he graduated from the school of aviation medicine and joined unit P38 as a captain and flight surgeon until 1945. He fought all the way from New Guinea to Okinawa where then he saw peace. Following his release from the Army, he resumed his residency at Cook County Hospital. He was appointed to the staff at Saint Francis Hospital in Internal Medicine in 1948 retiring in 1988. During his distinguished career, he served as President of the Peoria Medical Society in 1962 and President of the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center Staff from 1969 – 1970. In 1987 he was promoted to the Honorary Staff. He was one of the founding fathers of the OSF Foundation Council in 1990. He served as Chairman of the Board for the Council from 1992-1994. He was appointed to the emeritus status in 2000. He was inducted into the OSF Heritage Hall of Fame in 2006 as a Legend Honoree recognizing him for the lasting impression he made on the institution. In 2009, the Dr. George J. Best Family was named the Honorary Family for the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon. After retirement he continued to support the Mission of The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. It was his distinct privilege to serve with the greatest care and love. He was named the University of Notre Dame Man of the Year in 1973 Dr. Best also was given the Peoria Notre Dame Distinguished Alumni Award in 2000. He was a founding member and very active in the Booster Club for Spalding Institute and Bergan High School He was and avid golfer and a member of the Country Club of Peoria since 1952. He was a member of the Peoria Medical Society, the Notre Dame Club of Peoria and the Knights of Columbus, #427 Third Degree Spalding Council and #206 Fourth Degree Spalding Assembly. A Funeral Mass will be held at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Peoria Heights with Fr. Thomas Taylor and Msgr. Gerald T. Ward officiating. Visitation will be from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday at the church and one half hour before the Mass at the church. Entombment will be in Resurrection Mausoleum. Wright & Salmon is in charge of the arrangements. He will be remembered for his gentle healing power of kindness that he demonstrated throughout his personal and professional life. There are thousands of individuals who are alive today as a result of Dr. Best’s considerate work. His patients were a very high priority to him, not because it was his work but because they were people. He lived his life to the highest standards while always keeping his faith as the center of attention. He was a quiet philanthropist and humanitarian. Memorial contributions may be made to the OSF Foundation, St. Thomas Endowment Fund or the General Wayne A. Downing Home for Veterans.

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