The Rev. Montee Best, co-founder of Philippian Baptist Church, died on Saturday, May 16, 2020. He was 83.
“My father was a generous person,” said son Tony Best. “He wanted to help everyone. He took homeless people off the street and bought people groceries.
“If people were down and out he would give them money or take them somewhere where they could receive benefits,” he added. “Everybody knew my dad for kindness, his smile, and playing the tambourine. He was just a great man and role model.”
He was born June 30, 1936, in Mount Olive, North Carolina, to the late Nelly and Donzel Best Sr., the third oldest of nine children. He was educated in Mount Olive.
He joined the U.S. Navy in 1955 and served for four years before being honorably discharged, then served four years in the reserves. During his service in the Navy, he was often called upon by his superiors to lead in prayer.
“He loved leading his shipmates in prayer,” his son said.
Shortly after his service in the Navy, Best moved to Philadelphia. He later moved his parents and siblings to Philadelphia as well.
“He was a supporter of the DNC and he was actually a member of the DNC Philadelphia chapter,” Tony Best said. “He also met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he came to visit Philadelphia.”
Best joined Jones Memorial Baptist Church, where he met his future wife, Shirley. Two sons, Tony Lamont Best and Tyrone Kenneth Best, were born to their union. They were married for 58 years.
Best later founded Philippian Baptist Church with a small group of people. He served as a deacon and eventually became chairman of the deacon board, a position he held for many years.
According to his family, he had a dynamic and powerful style of praying and soon became one of the most inspirational speakers of the church. He became the “go-to” guy and was recognized and cultivated by a great orator of God’s word, the late Rev. S. Amos Brackeen. He became an ordained minister under Brackeen’s tutelage.
“My father was so powerful when he prayed in the church,” Tony Best said. “He was the person who opened the church before Rev. Brackeen and closed the church. He helped mold and guide the future leaders of the church.
“From as young as I could remember, my father was always about religion,” he added. “He lived his life to serve. He led by faith and that made him a great example of how to follow the Lord.”
Best also worked at the U.S. Cocoa plant and as a driver for Harbison’s Dairy, where he retired.
He was preceded in death by: his parents, Nelly and Donzel Best Sr.; son, Tyrone Kenneth Best Sr.; brother, Donzel Best Jr.; and sisters Margaret Best and Doris Ambrose.
He is survived by: his wife, Shirley Best; son, Tony Lamont Best; siblings, Earl Best, David Best of North Carolina, Charles Best, Willie Best and Linda Thorpe; grandchildren, Marissa Best, Joy Best, Faith Ann Best, Tyrone Best Jr., Heart Best, Temperance Best; great-grandson, Dion Robinson; daughters-in-laws, Nichole and Alisa Best; and other relatives and friends.
A service for Best will be held at 9:30 a.m. May 28 at Yarborough and Rocke Funeral Home, 1001 N. 63rd St. Viewing will begin at 8:30 a.m. Interment will be at Washington Crossing National Cemetery in Bucks County.