Citizen of the Month

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Stephen Best, Sr.

by Amanda Armstrong

Born and raised in Hampton Roads, former Chesapeake Fire Chief Stephen Best, Sr. has exhibited Stephen Besta lifelong dedication of public service to the city of Chesapeake.  His selfless career and humble devotion to bettering our community truly deserves commendation and recognition. His unfaltering commitment to Chesapeake is the very reason why he is a genuine hometown hero.  

Stephen Best, Sr. was born in Portsmouth and raised in the Deep Creek division of Chesapeake.  In sixth grade, he ambitiously set his first career goal to become a band director.  He worked with his two older brothers at Deep Creek Pharmacy and joined the Deep Creek Volunteer Fire Department in 1972 at the age of 16.  Firefighting ignited in Stephen “the spark you get when you serve people.”   When asked what inspired his early motivation for work, Stephen credited his “common denominators”: church, community, and family.  Stephen declined acceptance to Shenandoah Conservatory of Music, after his passion had changed from music to firefighting, a career in which he could give back to the community.

After graduating from Deep Creek High School in 1974, Stephen enrolled in Tidewater Community College in September of the same year.  Stephen joined the Chesapeake Fire Department as a paid firefighter on December 17, 1974, a date he remembers vividly.  While earning his Associate’s Degree in Fire Science, he developed a close relationship with then Chief of the Chesapeake Fire Department, Buddy Bagley.  Stephen first served as Fire Marshall and Fire Inspector for the city of Chesapeake in the Fire Prevention Bureau.  During this time he attained his Bachelor of Science Degree in Governmental Administration from Christopher Newport University in 1984.  Chief Bagley, whom Stephen deeply admires as a second father figure, stood as Best Man in Stephen’s wedding to Sheree in 1986.  In January 1991, Stephen was called to be Assistant Fire Chief and Deputy Fire Chief.  He completed his Master’s Degree in Business Administration in 1994 from Regent University School of Business.  He was appointed Fire Chief in April 1998 and earned his Doctorate from Regent University School of Law in 2008.  He retired from his position as Chief on January 1, 2010. 

Stephen’s resume is additionally overflowing with philanthropic endeavors.  When asked how Stephen juggles his countless community outreach activities, he simply stated, “I choose to give my time back to the community to serve Chesapeake and make it a better place to live.”  In 1992, Stephen joined the Chesapeake Rotary Club, of which President Roland Davis says, “Steve is a tremendous asset to our community.  His spirit, commitment, dedication, and determination to improve our city is unrivaled.  He cares.”  Furthermore, Stephen has sat on the Board of Directors of the Chesapeake Jubilee since 1993.  He served as the city’s Chairman of United Way in 1988 and has been involved with Gideon’s International local camp since the mid-1990s.  In 1996, Stephen served as Chairman of the Chesapeake YMCA.  He serves on the Board of Chesapeake Public School Foundation and is a member of South Norfolk Ruritan Club.  He even established the first Boys and Girls Club of Chesapeake in 2003.  Stephen has filled the position of Treasurer on the committee presiding over Chesapeake’s 50th Anniversary in 2013 and also sits on the Advisory Board for Great Bridge Battlefield and Waterways History Foundation.  Stephen is involved in the Hampton Roads Regional Catastrophic Planning Team and sits on the Board of the Chesapeake Regional Health Foundation.  He resides with his wife and two sons in South Chesapeake today where he teaches Sunday School in his lifelong church Deep Creek United Methodist.

Looking back on his adult philanthropic journey, Stephen credits his wife and God.  He claims it would have been impossible without the support and love of his wife.  Speaking on why he chose this path in life, he says, “God endows everybody with different fruit – it is our responsibility to listen to the call, discover what they are and develop those fruits.  And most importantly, put them to work in the community.” 

Congratulations, Stephen Best, on being named Citizen of the Month.  We appreciate your dedication to public service.  The citizens of Chesapeake are incredibly fortunate to have you as a leader in our community.

The Citizen welcomes your recommendations for Citizen of the Month.  Help us to recognize and honor outstanding community leaders who are making a difference in our city.  Email your nominations to:

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One Response to Citizen of the Month

  1. Francine Reply

    February 19, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    This really is the 4th post, of your blog I checked out. And yet I actually love this
    specific one, “Citizen of the Month | The Citizen of Chesapeake” the very best.

    Regards -Caitlin

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