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Jean Fitch Best

Jean Fitch Best passed away on Friday, March 6, 2020. Her gentle manner, generosity and concern for her fellow man en- riched the lives of the many she encountered as a teacher, member of the community, and friend. She was born March 24, 1921 to James and Hattie (Woods) Fitch in Groton. Despite the Depression, Jean had an idyllic childhood shared with her brother Harlan and sisters Zelda and Hilda on the family’s 400-acre woodland farm. Her mother taught her an appreciation for nature, often identifying wildflowers as they lay in the grasses. It was during these formative years that she developed her belief that every day was a gift from God and one only had to look in order to find the good. Whether it was driving the hay wagon or running errands in the horse and buggy, Jean learned that the survival of her family depended on everyone working together. This was exemplified when the Hurricane of ’38 devastated the family saw mill.
     She often reminisced of her sum- mers working at a lobster pound in Maine, and watching the young men march around the classroom ready to enlist upon learning of the Pearl Harbor bombing. Du ing World War II, Jean was trained as a spotter for enemy planes and other war efforts such as leading her students in collecting milk weed for parachutes.
     Jean obtained her teaching degree from Fitchburg State College, where she played guard for the women’s basketball team and participated in theater. She moved to Ohio to accept a teaching position at the prestigious Laurel School in Cleveland. There, she met her future husband, Dr. Ralph C. Best (deceased). They moved to Delphos, Ohio where Jean supported her husband in his dental practice and taught at the old Lincoln School in Delphos. Jean also modeled for local department stores.
Jean was a teacher at heart whether in the classroom, Garden Club, or guiding children in the woods. She never missed an opportunity to teach others how to observe and appreciate their surroundings.
     Jean was a dedicated member of the Delphos Garden Club for more than 70 years where for many years she won state awards for her Program Book and also served a term as Regional Director. As a member she spearheaded activities which benefited the community, such as planting 1000 tulip bulbs along the canal and 300 crabapple trees between Delphos and Elida and city entrances. Jean enjoyed reciting poetry and enjoyed cataloging her family history. Jean was proud of her heritage as one of the first families to settle the colonies, being a direct decedent of Zachary Fitch, who was sent by King Charles I to settle the new land in 1638.
     Jean raised her children, Beverly (Scott) Hughes, Valerie Best, both of Frederick, MD; Barbara Best of Reynoldsburg, OH; Cur- tis (Nancy) Best of Hopkinton; and Lorraine (Bob) Wieging, of Delphos, OH with great tender- ness and love. She was blessed with grandchildren Adam, David, and Laura Hughes; Andy Wieging; and Zachary and Brian Best and great-grandsons Wade and Logan Perkins. Her family also included in-laws Dick and Dorothy Shal- ter, Alvin Best, and Mary Mar- garet and Fred Schroeder, as well as many nephews and nieces who adored her.
     The best way to honor Jean would be to follow her three favorite guidelines: “observe”, “be kind” and “rejoice and be glad”. Preferred donations are to the Delphos Public Library or Boy Scouts.
     The family will celebrate her life at Weber Funeral Home, 1840 E. Fifth St., Delphos, OH on Sunday, March 8 from 2-5 p.m. Jean will return to her home in Massachusetts for an interment when the irises bloom.
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