Frederick J. 'Jack' Beste, businessman

Frederick J. 'Jack' Beste, businessman

Frederick J. "Jack" Beste, a retired businessman and World War II veteran, died Wednesday at Lorien Mays Chapel of complications from pneumonia. He was 88.

The son of Frederick J. Beste Sr., a cemetery director, and Evelyn Bevans Beste, a homemaker, Frederick John Beste was born in Baltimore and raised on Rosalie Avenue in Hamilton.


He graduated in 1943 from Polytechnic Institute and enlisted in the Army Air Forces, where he was a radar and mathematics instructor.

After being discharged in 1947, he went to work as an instructor for the New York Technical Institute of Maryland and later became its director.

In 1953, he joined the staff of AAI Corp. in Cockeysville, where he was chief of electronics and electromechanical sales.

In 1957, he and his business partner, William Jacob, established Maryland Telecommunications, which was a consulting firm that specialized in television systems for medical, industrial and broadcast television. They also invented an infrared camera that was used during the Vietnam War by the military for night reconnaissance.

The partners sold the business in 1972 to KMS Industries. Tiring of retirement, Mr. Beste joined with David T. Krausman, a computer engineer, to found Supersign, whose huge computer electronic signs flashed 30,000-watt messages to beachgoers in Ocean City.

The company's signs are now found on beaches from New Jersey to Florida.

"We had a lot of fun with that business, going to so many resort areas and meeting new, interesting people," said his wife of 42 years, the former Ginger Butcher. "He had to design a special pontoon boat so the sign wouldn't rock in choppy waters."

In 1990, Mr. Beste sold the business, and in the 1990s he established Woodwrite, where he invented a special lathe for turning wooden pencils.

A massive stroke in 2002 brought Mr. Beste's business career to an end, and since 2010 he had lived at Lorien Mays Chapel.

"He was brilliant on so many levels that I called him 'My Renaissance Man.' He never saw a problem that he didn't want to fix or make better," said his wife. "When barriers were put in his way, he just worked harder."

For years, he enjoyed flying his twin-engine turbocharged Aerostar and working on a small farm he owned in Sparks. He had been a longtime Mays Chapel resident.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Lemmon Funeral Home, 10 W. Padonia Road, Timonium.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Beste is survived by two sons, Frederick J. Beste III of Allentown, Pa., and Ronald Beste of Timonium; two daughters, Janice Pritchard of Timonium and Deborah Mansfield of Sparks; two stepsons, Robert W. Klein of Lenoir, N.C., and Kenneth S. Klein of Denver; eight grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. An earlier marriage to the former Janice Grander ended in divorce.