John Gerhardt (Jack) Bestgen died peacefully on January 21 at his home in Niskayuna, at the age of 87, with his wife and son by his side.
Jack was the son of John G. Bestgen and Velma Haskins Bestgen of Wollaston, MA and Dennis Port, MA.
Jack spent his early years in Wollaston, before moving with his family to Dennis Port, MA, on Cape Cod in 1948. He graduated from Yarmouth High School in 1950 and attended The University of Massachusetts in Amherst where he earned his BS degree in Civil Engineering. He was a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, and after his military service he pursued his graduate studies in Business Administration at George Washington University.
He was a Korean War veteran, serving as one of the first contingent of officers responsible for the re-activation and reconstruction of RAF Station Alconbury, a World War II air base in the UK.
Upon graduating from a three-year Junior Engineer training program, Jack spent a forty-year career with the Federal Highway Administration (formerly US Bureau of Public Roads). Coming up through the ranks he became Regional Administrator, responsible for overseeing the Federal-Aid Highway Program in the six New England states, New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
As Regional Administrator for 16 years, he oversaw the planning, design and construction of the Interstate Highway System in the Northeast. Throughout his career he worked in several states across the country, extending from the Pacific Northwest to the East Coast, including several years in Washington, DC, where he met his wife, Sally.
For several years he served on the Board of Directors of the Northeastern Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. He was a member and served as president of the Federal Executive Association of Northeastern New York.
In 1981 he was appointed as a member of the Senior Executive Service of the USA. He was a registered Professional Engineer in Massachusetts and a Fellow in the American Society of Civil Engineers.
He was a longtime member of Union Presbyterian Church where he served as an Elder, as a member of the Board of Trustees and as youth group advisor. He became a member of First Reformed Church of Schenectady upon the merger of the two churches. For 50 years Jack was also an adherent member of the South Dennis Congregational Church on Cape Cod.
He and his wife Sally have maintained a summer home in Dennis Port for many years. He loved the Cape and managed to spend as much time there as possible with his family and friends.
He is survived by his wife and friend Sally (Sara Megeath Bestgen), their son, John G. Bestgen, Jr., daughter-in-law Kimberly Mack, and grandchildren, Noah and Chloe Bestgen, all of Pepperell, MA, his sister, Priscilla Patten of Falmouth, MA, and several nieces and nephews. He was particularly close to his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Mike and Mary Ellen Megeath of Waterford, VA, and his niece Debra Garrahan of Bellingham, MA, who also survives him. He was predeceased by his brother, Rodgers Bestgen, and nephew, Michael Megeath, Jr.
His memorial service will be at the First Reformed Church of Schenectady at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, February 11. Interment will be in Leesburg, VA.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Home Furnishings Program, 603 State Street, Schenectady, NY 12305. Arrangements by Daly Funeral Home, Inc., 242 McClellan St., Schenectady.
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