Sandra May Bechtel, 76, of Tionesta, PA, went home to dwell in the house of our Lord Saturday, February 23, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. after a valiant battle with Lewy Body Dementia.
Sandra was born September 1, 1942 in Okeechobee, FL, a daughter of Leon Hudson Willis and Verlie Catherine (Rutledge) Willis.
Sandra was a 1960 graduate of Okeechobee High School and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Richlands Community College, Richlands, Virginia in 1993 with a 3.97 GPA. Sandra was very active in her youth with youth programs in the First Baptist Church, Okeechobee, FL, Sergeant with the youth Civil Air Patrol and had fond memories as a teenager trying out in West Palm Beach and being offered a roll in Dick Clark’s American Band Stand which was quickly rejected by her deep southern family even though her uncle was lead guitarist in a television country western show. Sandra worked in positions including office manager in her father’s surveying business, nurse’s aid, clerk and later deputy clerk with the City of Okeechobee. She entered the political arena, ran for office and was elected City Clerk of the City of Okeechobee, Florida – responsible for all records and finance including utilities billing, collections, etc. In 1977, while attending a statewide municipal conference, she met her best friend, soul mate, love of her life and future husband. She gave up her elected position and some of her deep southern heritage March 1978 and moved to North Carolina to marry Marion LaVern Bechtel the new and first City Manager of Hendersonville, NC, and stood by his side throughout his career as top official with 6 different local governments. During their marriage she was finance officer with regional planning commissions in Poplar Bluff, Missouri and Greenwood, South Carolina. She had pleasant memories as a member of the Lutheran Church in Fort Walton Beach, FL where she personally provided “stick puppet” programs for the youth and acted in numerous church holiday plays. She received standing ovations for every acting roll she ever played. She loved dancing and especially loved to spend time with her grandchildren and family. In retirement years Sandra accumulated a personal book collection and library of 3,500 books, grew and planted flowers in her gardens, and all her life studied her bible daily and numerous writings about the bible until the Lewey Body Dementia took over. Sandra was a very steadfast and devout Christian.
Sandra was the last member of her immediate family with the exception of an adopted sister, Deborah Miller, Okeechobee, FL and double cousins she considered more as brothers – Glynn Rutledge, Okeechobee, FL and Forest Nolton, Deland, FL.
She was preceded in death by her mother and father, two brothers Michael (Robyn) Willis and Olin (Sarah) Willis and two sisters Delores (Ira) Willis-Davis and Dorena (Mark) Willis-Swogger.
Surviving is her husband of 41 years, Marion LaVern Bechtel, Sr., whom she married March 16, 1978 and by children and their spouses: Marian Grace (Rev. David III) Bechtel-Nagele, Reynoldsville, PA, Catherine D. (Dr. Leland) Bennett-Heller, Okeechobee,FL, John Todd (Brenda) Bennett, Okeechobee, FL and stepchildren Marion LaVern (Barbara) Bechtel Jr., Bushnell, FL, Sherry L. (Rev. David) Bechtel-Stauffer, Leesburg, FL, Robin M. (Vonnie) Bechtel-Morgan, Lake Weir, FL, Marilyn D. (James) Bechtel-Bilbrey, Grand Island, FL, Dr. Colleen R. (Don) Bechtel-Maxwell, Debary, FL, Danial R. Bechtel, Lady Lake, FL, and Gretchan A. Bechtel, Tavares, FL, 9 grandchildren, 11 step grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren and 7 step great grandchildren also survive her. One of the many things for which Sandra will be missed are almost daily notes to her husband and children place in dresser drawers, pants and shirt pockets, wallet, book bags, books, etc. expressing her support and love for each of them. A note found attached within her bible reads: “My darling Husband: I know what is going to happen and I am writing this note while I still can. I have always loved you with all my heart and soul. I cannot imagine Heaven without you, so if the Lord will permit, I will wait for you on the other side. I pray the Lord will bless you, all of our children, all of our friends and all those friends we haven’t met yet and may never meet. May God Bless You All. I love you Vern. Your loving wife. Sandra.”
Friends will be received at the Hile Funeral Home Inc., 1204 Kerr Ave., Emlenton, PA on Tuesday from 5 – 9 p.m. A funeral service will be held at the funeral home on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. Interment will follow at the Zion Union Cemetery, Emlenton, PA. Online condolences may be sent by visiting www.hilefh.com.
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