Earl “Chip” Richard Best passed away in comfort care at St. James hospital surrounded by his family on Jan.13, 2022.
Earl was born to Dorothy Hubbard and Earl “Junie” Best on Oct.15, 1948 in Butte, MT. spending his early years with his grandparents Richard “Dick” and Mildred and uncles Melvin, Donald, Walter & Leslie.
At 4 years Junie married Shirley Lindsay and Chip became the big brother to Mike and Jamie. Earl went through grade school at St. Ann’s where he was an alter boy excelling in sports of baseball, boxing and a member of the Montan Amateur Speed Skating Association. Each year he enjoy collecting Christmas trees to make a fort in the neighborhood lot stashing snowballs and playing war with other neighborhoods and bonking a few cars. Celebrating with a bonfire later, the whole neighborhood would throw in foiled potatoes to roast & Chip dug out the potatoes. He also enjoyed hooking cars while at Jr. High.
He was an avid outdoors man hiking camping fishing and hunting spending his summers on the mining claims near Argenta, the Pattengail & the Big Hole River. He mowed lawns,shoveled snow sold shoes at his grandpa Grant “Binks” Lindsay’s Shoe Srore was a shoe shine boy, and worked the Hershey Ranch near Wisdom.
Chip moved to Deer Lodge with his Uncle Don & Aunt Cookie, cousins Sandy, Kathy and Connie and attended Powell County High School joining the Future Farmers of America.
Chip joined the Marine Corp doing boot camp in California and then did 3 tours in Viet Nam being wounded twice, becoming a Prisoner of War, escaping from the VietCong earning a Presidential Citation,a Bronze Star, 2 Purple Hearts, Expert Rifleman among many other medals with the 1st Marine 3rd Battalion Division, Charlie Company whose motto was ” We have come so far for so long with so little that we can now do anything with nothing.”
While on “leave” in Missouri he met his first love, Barbara Dawson married a year later and they were stationed in Rota, Spain they gave birth to and proudly doted on his daddy’s little girl Julie Anne.
Returning to the states Earl became a Drill Instructor at Paris Island, S. Carolina, and a Weapons Specialist at Camp Lejuene N. Carolina with a Staff Seargent ranking leaving the service in 1975. He loved to take Julie and his dog Candy night fishing off a pier in the Atlantic Ocean.
He came back to Deer Lodge and worked as a guard at Montana State Prison.
After attempts of self destruction Chip was one of the first to be diagnosed with PTSD in a Menlo Park, California in a center for Viet Nam Veterans.
Chip thrived and moved to San Jose where he earned a degree in counseling running a half way house and finding a passion for house painting.
Spending a vacation in Butte painting his dad n wife Donna ( Kim & Richards’) home he met the love of his life and soulmate Peggie Huddleston. Together they moved to Kingman Arizona managing an R.V. Park and running their Best Boy Paints Company.
Chip & Peggie returned to Butte to raise their 2 Grandchildren Mekia & Christopher Rolfe later adopting Mekia. He loved going to school with Mekia & his father/daughter dinners, hunting with Christopher camping, fishing, road trips and adventures with all their friends and family.
Earl had many health issues and was always grateful for the V.A. Fort Harrison & Anaconda where he was treated with respect and dignity. Earl & Peggie traveled all over Montana and back and forth to the Veterans Hospital in Salt Lake City. Peggie took such good care of him he fondly called her “the Warden”.
Chip fought his last battle after an operation in December. He developed an infection and spent his remaining time in Comfort Care passing on Jan.13, 2022.
Chip was real.He told it like he saw it. He was selfless, funny, a great friend, a hero to many, a good father and husband who will be sorely missed and never forgotten. Oorah Earl. Semper Fi. SALUTE!
Earl’s spirit lives on through his wife Peggie, Mekia and Christopher, son in law & wife Trevor & Ashley, grandsons Zach & Eric, daughter in law & wife Jeannie & Angel with great grandson Jonah, daughter Julie Grimes and son Zach, brother Mike, nephew Grant, nieces Emily, Madalyn & Elizabeth sister Jamie cousins Terry, Gala, Dana, Tim, Bill, Steve, Sandy, Kathy, Connie and all their families.
A special thanks goes out to the V.A. Fort Harrison & Salt Lake City, St James Health Care, Axelsons Funeral Service and the Marine Corp League for all the care they gave to and for Earl and his family.
You are invited to celebrate Earl by attending a service and gun salute, privately organized by family, Saturday, July 2 at 11a.m. in Mountain View Cemetary, followed by a bring your own beverages picnic at Stodden Park until 2.
Please visit below to offer a condolence or share a memory of Earl.
Axelson Funeral and Cremation Services has been privileged to care for Earl and his family.