Missouri man finds family in Superior

Growing up, Jon Best knew he was adopted. The Shelby, Missouri, man was grateful for everything his adoptive parents, Everett and Gertrude Best, did for him. So, it wasn't until his mother's death when he embarked on a mission to find out who his...

From left, siblings Dale Nummi, Jon Best, Karen Nelson and Diane Erickson, get together after Best reached out to his half siblings after learning the identity of his birth mother, Mabel Williams. Williams married Harry Nummi in 1951 together they raised Nummi, Nelson and Erickson, who learned earlier this year that their mother gave birth to Best in 1945 in Kansas City, Missouri. Courtesy of Sharon Nummi

Growing up, Jon Best knew he was adopted.

The Shelby, Missouri, man was grateful for everything his adoptive parents, Everett and Gertrude Best, did for him.

So, it wasn’t until his mother’s death when he embarked on a mission to find out who his parents were and whether he had a family out there - a family he found in Superior.

“I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by making her think I was looking for another mother,” Best said. He said he started the search thinking he might have brothers or sisters somewhere, and there may be an outside chance that his birth mother might still be alive.

After all, Best is grateful to his birth mother for bringing him into the world.


Initially, Best hired a private investigator for the job, but that turned up nothing about his past.

It wasn’t until last Christmas, when his daughters gave him a gift certificate for DNA testing, that he started to make some headway.

“It did yield some distant cousins,” Best said. But, his immediate family remained elusive.

“You can’t match unless you have two people,” Best said. “But, one of those cousins that did show up was a lady in Norway,” Best said. He said that while she lived in Norway, their grandparents came from the same county in Sweden - his grandparents had immigrated to the United States.

While she did not know much about his family, Best said she tried to help him locate his family.

Best got his big break in January, when the state of Missouri started allowing adoptive children to unsealing their records. Best put in an application to retrieve the names of his birth parents; and in a couple of weeks received his original birth certificate, which included the names of his parents.

“My birth certificate listed the names of my adoptive parents,” Best said. “It was dated in October of ’45 and I was actually born in August of ’45.”

It was from that document he learned his mother was Mabel Williams of Duluth.


“My mother ... came from Duluth, Minnesota, to Kansas City, Missouri, to have me,” Best said. “I was born in a place called the Willows Maternity Home in Kansas City. Basically, that’s where young girls that were pregnant could come and have a baby and leave them there for adoption.”

With that information in hand, Best said his computer-savvy daughters took to the internet in an effort to find connections in the U.S.

“Getting on the computer, they tracked them both down - mother and father - both by using those names,” Best said. “It took a little longer with my mom because she had married in 1951.”

Best’s daughters found an obituary for his birth mother. From there, he said, he learned the names of his half siblings: Dale Nummi, Karen Nelson and Diane Erickson. Another computer search yielded the addresses of his siblings.

“So January, I get this Facebook message … and I thought it was a scam, so I ignored it,” Nummi said. About a month later, Nummi said he received a manila envelope with documentation to backup the Facebook message.

“I sent each of them a letter with a copy of my birth certificate … all the documentation I had,” Best said. “I didn’t want them to think I was trying to scam them or something like that.”

Nummi, owner of Nummi Jewelers, said it was around Valentine’s Day - a busy time for Nummi -  when he received the letter, and he left it to his sister Karen to investigate since she had retired.

Best said he realizes the family was a “little bit aghast” because none of them knew their mother, Mabel Nummi, had a baby. Still, over the last six months, they talked, became Facebook friends and corresponded by mail.


“They wound up sending me a lot of pictures of my mom,” Best said. “We were exchanging information and photos, finally until the point we were getting comfortable with each other.”

Then, the first weekend of July, Best made the trip to Superior to meet the half siblings he’d always wondered about.

“He looks exactly like my mother,” Nummi said of meeting Best in person at Barker’s Island. “He’s a really wonderful guy, a really nice family.”

Nummi said over the weekend, they spent time going to cemeteries so the family could share their history with their recently discovered half-sibling.  

“It was wonderful … if I had to pick a family myself, I probably couldn’t have done any better,” Best said.

“We are all newly blessed,” Nelson said.

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