Memorial services for Raelene Best, 63, who passed away Saturday, April 27, 2013 at Mercy Hospice in Johnston, will be held 1:30 p.m., Friday, May 10 at the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Indianola with burial of cremains following in the Indianola I.O.O.F. Cemetery. Visitation will be held 4 to 8:30 p.m., Thursday, May 9 at Overton Funeral Home in Indianola where family will be present to greet friends from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Raelene Best grew up in the southwest Iowa town of Sharpsburg where she attended school from K–6th grade, Lenox and Sharpsburg consolidated schools when she was in 6th grade, and she graduated from Lenox Community High School in 1968. She attended the University of Northern Iowa from 1968 – January, 1970, and transferred to Simpson College where she earned a Bachelor of Music degree in music education in 1972. She then attended the University of Northern Iowa where she earned the Master of Arts degree in music in 1976. Raelene taught K–12 vocal music at Union-Whitten for 2 years and junior high vocal music at Brody Junior High in Des Moines for 5 years.
Raelene and Denis Best were married at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Indianola, in 1979 and she has lived in Indianola since then. She is survived by her husband, children David Best of Des Moines, Sara, married to Miguel Garcia, and granddaughter Natalia Garcia of Johnston, IA. She is also survived by four sisters and their spouses: Linda and Fred Woolley of Papillion, NE, Kathy of Port Orchard, WA, Sue and Keith Borcherding of Redfield, IA, Jan and Richard Sickels, Lenox, IA; as well as two brothers and their spouses: Jim and Karen Beach of Muscatine, IA, Tim and Cynthia Beach of Lacey, WA, many nieces, nephews, and cousins and her Aunt Jo Walter, Lenox, IA. She was preceded in death by her parents Bill (1983) and Patricia (1998) Beach of Lenox, IA and brothers, Jerry (1959) and Bob (2004).
When Raelene moved to Indianola, she became a private music instructor. Over the years she has given piano, guitar and voice lessons to hundreds of students at her home studio. Her students performed in the Indianola Music Festival, National Guild Auditions, gave recitals and provided music at area nursing homes. Many of her students have gone on to successful careers in music and many learned to enjoy music in their life.
Denny and Raelene formed The Best Little Country Band in 1980 and played in that band until 1989. Denny played bass guitar and sang and Raelene played keyboard, rhythm guitar and sang. They played in the central Iowa area for clubs, organizations and private parties. Later, they performed as the Best Family Band, with David joining them on drums and Sara playing fiddle and singing. They performed several times at the National Balloon Classic, Bluegrass Tuesdays, other community events.
From 1993 to 2011 Raelene served on the music faculty at Simpson College where she was an assistant professor of music. She taught piano lessons and guitar classes and accompanied voice students for lessons and recitals. She also helped recruit prospective music students, managed the music department web site, and served on several school and department committees.
Raelene also served as music director for Theatre Simpson from 1998–2011 where she provided musical direction for musicals and plays as well as vocal coaching and accompaniment for students preparing auditions. In 2008 Raelene received a Certificate of Merit for Musical Direction from the Region V Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for her musical direction of the Theatre Simpson production of Frog and Toad. Raelene enjoyed attending the American College Theatre Festivals and served as accompanist for summer stock auditions at the Festival several times.
Teaching at Simpson was Raelene’s dream job. She loved Simpson because as a student she was encouraged to grow and develop her musical skills, had performance opportunities and musical challenges she never would have experienced anywhere else. Being part of a faculty that continued to challenge and encourage students and to see them go on to have successful musical careers was rewarding and fulfilling.
Raelene belonged to the National, Iowa, and Indianola Federation of Music Clubs and has held state and local offices. She was chair of the Indianola Music Festival for 20 years. Other musical activities in the community included serving as substitute organist at the First United Methodist Church for several years, being involved in Carousel Community Theatre and serving on the board of the Indianola Concert Association. She was a lifetime member of the National Education Association and Iowa Education Association and also belonged to the Iowa Composers Forum.
Raelene was an active church musician at Redeemer Lutheran Church for 30 years where she was able to serve God, her church family and the community. At Redeemer, Raelene served as organist and pianist for church services and served as choir director and accompanist for youth, middle school, high school and Senior Choirs. She wrote and directed several Christmas programs for youth and several anthems for the Senior Choir. She served as a vocalist, organist and pianist for many funerals and weddings. Directing the Senior Choir, knowing the choir musicians and playing for the Christmas Eve services were highlights in her musical life at Redeemer.
While Raelene’s accomplishments were many, her influence on her family is even greater – through her children, her siblings, and every generation of her extended family. Her patience, love of teaching, and generous sharing of her music has been an inspiration and will live on in the hearts and talents of her family. The Best Family Band performed at many family reunions and hearing her sing and play the fiddle was especially enjoyed. Raelene is known for loving children, especially her granddaughter, Natalia, and the children all loved her. When asked for advice, she had a special way of helping solve the problem without telling the person what to do. Raelene’s sense of humor, her endless positive attitude, and strong faith have impacted the family more than she realized.
During her illness, Raelene’s family, Church, and community have been a wonderful source of support and encouragement. It has been a time to draw closer together and discover the many ways to help each other. We all learned the importance of saying “I love you.”
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Indianola or Mercy Hospice in Johnston. For complete obituary information and to place an online condolence, please go to www.overtonfunerals.com.