Ted and his twin brother were born to Fred and Preppa Best on June 27, 1922, in the Cotton County community of Hulan. As one of 11 children, Ted learned quickly how to share, get along with others and to appreciate the power of hard work. These were lessons that he would apply throughout his 36-year educational career.
Ted graduated from Walters High School in 1942, after interrupting his schooling to serve one year in the Civilian Conservation Corps. He served in the Navy during World War II. After the war, Ted enrolled at Oklahoma A&M College and earned his master’s degree in distributive education in 1951, accepting the job as DE teacher-coordinator at Broken Arrow High School. It was there that his lifelong love affair with distributive education and DECA really began. In July 1952, he married Jane Herde, another A&M graduate who was living in Tulsa.
In 1956, the legendary M. J. DeBenning asked Ted to be the assistant state supervisor of distributive education and state advisor for Oklahoma DECA. Each year, he accompanied his Oklahoma DECA officers and state winners to the National DECA Career Development Conference, held in different cities across the country. Their honors were many, including four national DECA presidents and a host of other national offices. Also, Oklahoma had the number one DECA chapter in the nation three different years.
A highlight of Ted’s career came when he was chairman of the DECA board of directors and joined President Jimmy Carter for a Rose Garden ceremony honoring DECA. He also served as Oklahoma Vocational Association president and president of the National Association of State Supervisors of DE for two years and was awarded that organization’s Distinguished Service Award in 1978. In 1980, he was presented DECA’s highest award—honorary life membership.
Mr. Best was inducted into the CareerTech Hall of Fame in 1997.