Bestor parents are thankful for their children's successes

Published: Saturday, June 18 2011 4:00 p.m. MDT

Rollie and Phyllis Bestor are parents of musician Kurt Bestor, but they have three other children that are all outstanding, including a son who is an FBI agent Monday, May 9, 2011, in Orem, Utah. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Tom Smart, Deseret News

Last fall, when the old Orem High School was being torn down, Rollie Bestor got one of the old bricks for each of his four children.

During their tenure at the school, each of the kids had received the Tigerama Award, given to the student that the teachers felt had contributed most to the school that year. When their youngest son, John, got the award in 1980, it was the first time that any family had had every one of their children get the Tigerama Award, Rollie says.

He prepared a little plaque to be attached to each brick, and as he thought about all that the kids had done not only then but ever since, "we fell in love with our kids all over again," Rollie says.

He and his wife, Phyllis, "wanted to say thank you to them, not only for what they have done, but also for giving us the feeling that perhaps some of what we tried to do as parents was successful."

That, he says, is what every parent wants: to know he was successful in guiding his children along the path to adulthood. "I felt like they have rewarded us with the finest compliment a parent could have."

Kurt is probably the best-known of the Bestor offspring. As a musician, he's done everything from score movies to write symphonies. His annual Christmas concerts have been a Salt Lake tradition for more than 20 years.

He was also very athletic in school, Rollie says. "He could have done very well, but he was drawn to music early on. I'm still amazed when I go to his concerts and see everything he puts into them."

Jill, who now lives in Rexburg where her husband, Ron Anderson, teaches at BYU-Idaho, was also a star swimmer and involved in other activities in school. She is now the mother of five and was named Citizen of the Year in Rexburg a few years ago. "She steps out in areas that she feels needs attention," Phyllis says. "She's now head of the Madison School District Foundation, which looks for ways to raise money for the schools."

Carrie and her husband, Lon Henderson, live in St. George and are the parents of six children. "She's also a mover-and-shaker in the community," Rollie says. And she was the one who started Pinnacle Music for Kurt as his music career began to take off. Plus, she's published a cookbook of German recipes, her family heritage.

John could have been an Olympic swimmer, Rollie says. "He could have been another Mark Spitz. But he realized he would have to move to California for more training and decided to forgo that." John is now associated with the FBI and is currently stationed in Atlanta, but he has worked with counter-intelligence all over the world. He was involved in Operation Phish Phry, a large cyber-fraud takedown; worked in Egypt and the Middle East, where one task was to keep tabs on Moammar Gaddafi; lived and worked in Nairobi. He recently received the FBI's second-highest award from the U.S. Attorney General.

Rollie and Phyllis "don't want to sound like we're bragging," she says. "Every family has achievements to be proud of. We are just very happy with who our children have become." Back when people would ask what she hoped her children would do when they grew up, "some people might say doctors or lawyers. I just wanted them to do something good for the world. We wanted them to develop a serving attitude. And they have."

They were all very young when the family moved to Utah from Wisconsin; Kurt was the oldest at age 7. Rollie was coming to work on a Ph.D. and to teach physical education and coach swimming at BYU. He was one of only 26 non-Mormons teaching at the Y. at the time.

"We weren't quite sure what we were getting into," Rollie says. "Back in Wisconsin, no one ever asked what religion you were." He was a Methodist, who had also been a Christian Scientist before becoming a Catholic, when he married Phyllis. "I just thought we should be the same." After all, he says, Phyllis changed who he was. He was drifting, had actually considered leaving school when he met her. "When we started dating, it all came together, academics, music, athletics. We just had to find our own niche."

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