George Best. Photo by Kirsten Laskey
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
George Best may be retired but he still has a job. Every Monday, he dons a uniform and heads to Bandelier National Monument to work as a volunteer.
Best, 93, provides assistance to the staff at the visitor center, which includes answering questions and greeting visitors as they disembark the shuttle buses. Additionally, Best said he walks the trails to answer questions as well as point out archeological features. He added he also keeps an eye out for anyone who needs help.
Best has a lot of history with Bandelier; he first traveled to the park in 1950 when the roads were winding and made of gravel. He has volunteered at Bandelier for four years. Besides working at the national monument, Best has in the past volunteered at Ghost Ranch where he conducted tours of the different locations where Georgia O’Keefe painted. He occasionally works at the Valles Caldera National Preserve during special events.
“I’ve always enjoyed the national parks. I felt like I would like to give back a little and help people enjoy them,” Best said.
It is rewarding for Best as well, he said. Volunteering is an opportunity to help support the parks, plus, “I enjoy meeting people from other parts of the country and other parts of the world, too,” Best said.
When Bandelier reopened after being closed for 16 days due to the government shutdown, Best said it was great to be back. “I missed going and I was glad to get back to work,” he said.
Best arrived in Los Alamos in 1949; he worked for 33 years as a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
In addition to offering his time and services at different national parks, Best also served on boards of directors for Los Alamos National Laboratory retiree organizations, and volunteered at Sombrillo Nursing Home, Betty Ehart Senior Center and Del Norte Credit Union.
“Many organizations depend on volunteer help to perform whatever their objectives and functions are,” Best said. “I just want to help them.”