Grayson Best
Grayson Best

Grayson Best

AFRH-W Resident Highlight – Grayson Best
By Lori Kerns, AFRH-G Librarian

Grayson Best was born in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  He and his five siblings were raised on a farm about ten miles from Myrtle Beach.  The whole family had to pitch in on the farm to help raise the livestock, such as horses, cows, chickens and hogs, in addition to farming tobacco, corn, cotton and other crops.  When Grayson was about ten years old, the family left their farm and moved to the city of Richmond, Virginia for his father to become a truck driver.  Moving from a community of about 100 residents to a bustling city was a huge culture shock for him.  At the age of 12, Grayson’s father decided that he would have to start paying $10/week for room and board.  Finding a job at that age was not easy.  Eventually he found a couple of paper routes and would wake up every day at 4:00 a.m. to deliver his papers and then return home to eat breakfast and go to school.  When he turned 16, he found work with Western Union delivering telegrams by bicycle.  Feeling confident that he was making enough money, he moved out of his family’s home and rented a room at a boarding house.  He lived here for two years until he graduated high school.

The draft for the Vietnam War was occurring around this time.  Grayson’s draft number was 11 so he began weighing his options.  If drafted, he likely would have been required to give a six-year commitment of active duty.  He decided to join the Marine Corps with the mindset that he would only be required two years of service.

At the age of 19, Grayson was sent to boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina.  His next stop was Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to begin general warfare training.  To finish his training, he attended advanced jungle warfare training at Camp Pendleton, California.  With his new skills behind him, he boarded a plane to Vietnam and was taken to the jungle to begin his first tour doing reconnaissance.  During this tour, he was shot in his right shoulder.  He healed and was sent for another recon mission back in the jungles of Vietnam where he was shot in his right thigh.  Again, he healed and was ordered back to the jungle for a third tour.  During this tour, he stepped on an anti-personnel mine and nearly lost his leg.  Grayson spent seven months recovering at a naval hospital in Key West.  Due to his severe injuries, he was granted a disability retirement once he was released from medical care.  He retired with two years of service with the Marine Corps and received 18 commendations for his efforts, among them three Purple Hearts.

Grayson went back to Richmond to take advantage of the GI Bill by earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management.  He began working in the banking field only to realize that it did not suit him.  He found a job in retail working for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company where he stayed for several years.  Using his business degree and experience in retail, he decided to leave Goodyear and open his own business.  He moved back to Myrtle Beach and began a Club Car golf cart dealership.  After developing and running his business for several years, he decided he wanted to travel.  He began touring the U.S. and parts of the world.  Some of his most exciting times were when he would stay at the national parks and rough it by living in a tent.  Once he became bored with traveling, he decided to go back to school and get his contractor’s license.  With his license, he started building residential homes and commercial buildings.  His building career lasted for about ten years before he decided it was time to permanently retire from working.

The next chapter in Grayson’s life brought him to work with different Christian organizations.  He preached on Sundays as a substitute for pastors that were on leave.  He also enjoyed preaching at revivals.  However, the work he feels was most fulfilling was his involvement with prison ministry.  He volunteered his time with these organizations for about ten years.

About 11 years ago, Grayson decided to move from Myrtle Beach to Biloxi, Mississippi.  He always knew that the injuries he sustained with the Marine Corps may cause him to need extra medical care.  He decided the proximity to Keesler Medical Center and the VA Medical Center in Biloxi would be ideal.  He also knew AFRH-G was close by if he should decide to live in a retirement community.  He finally decided to put his name on the waiting list for AFRH-G.  After a three-year wait, he was able to move into the Home. 

Grayson says he absolutely loves the Home and the people.  Living here, he is still able to keep in touch with his son, Patrick, who is a teacher, artist and musician back in Myrtle Beach.  Grayson is also able to take advantage of “coast life” by golfing several days of the week and fishing for speckled trout and other local favorites in the area.  His most recent adventures have taken him on a trip with his golf buddies to Hawaii, where they played golf, ate the local cuisine, and enjoyed the museums and concerts.  It’s always refreshing to see our new residents, like Grayson, move in and enjoy their retirement with what “coast life” has to offer.