My brother Mikey was my first DM, so he gets credit for teaching me the game. But I think most of our time was one-on-one, so it would be not be accurate for me to call him my best DM ever. Best teacher, perhaps, so that still counts for a lot.
Next would have been my friends and classmates I played with early on, but we didn't exactly have a grasp on the nuances of the game (and sometimes not even a few basic rules), and were guilty of Monty Haul syndrome from time to time.
My then-neighbor Kurt was our first long-time DM. He did a pretty good job overall, but he tended to be a bit sadistic. You know, the kind of DM who took glee destroying magic items and killing off characters. He even threw pencils at us from time to time. Oh, and speaking of pencils, none of his ever had erasers - just the metal end, which tore holes in our character sheets when we lost magic items and whatnot.
And for a brief spell, I gamed with another group of chaotic lads. I think they rotated DMs between a couple of guys (Casey and Duane?) but I quit playing with them when they ganked my 4th level neutral cleric because "he was becoming too powerful" or something like that.
Ned has been our longest-tenured DM, our most consistent DM, and not surprisingly, our best DM. He has ushered us through 1E, 2E, our house-rules-heavy 2E, 3E, and currently 3.5 (the 4E debacle is my fault and mine alone).
There are way too many campaigns, adventures, and encounters to recall, so I shan't even try. But over the years, the one constant in Ned's DMing has been baseball (sorry, I mean fun). The ups, the downs, the player vs. player strife, memorable crits, forgettable fumbles, everything we have done has happened with Ned behind the screen. It doesn't matter if it was a pre-written module or one of Ned's homespun adventures, whatever we were doing was going to be run well and entertaining. Of course Ned has had to put up with our shenanigans, grab-assing, arguing, idiocy, and thick-headedness (especially at 2:37am while trying to solve a puzzle or riddle).
We may not have always liked or agreed with every single one of Ned's calls, but nothing has ever been a deal-breaker, and nothing has ever been out of spite or meanness. Well, except for when Ned nerfed the cavalier's ability to function at negative HP levels - I'm fairly certain that was directed towards me. Just kidding, dude.
So a heartfelt thank you to you, Ned - for your skill behind the screen, but more importantly, for your 30+ years of friendship.