Ethel Marie Bechtel, age 99, of Osawatomie, Kansas, died Monday, January 21, 2008 at the Miami County Medical Center in Paola.
Ethel was born August 13, 1908, on a farm in the Goose Creek area, south of Bunker Hill, Kansas. She was the second of nine children, eight of whom survived, (Edith, Ethel (herself), Florence, Lee, Leo, Floyd, Viola, Clara Mae, and Joseph Jr.) born to Joseph and Clara (Ruby) Ross. She attended Trapp School, a country school – District 55, and graduated from Bunker Hill High School in 1927. She then attended Normal School in Russell to become a teacher. She taught for two years, 1928 and 1929, in Hawley School District 23 in Russell County.
She was united in marriage to Clarence Arthur Bechtel on April 24, 1929 at Russell, Kansas. They became the parents of three children. Throughout their 32 years in rural Russell County they lived on three different farms moving to Russell in 1962. Her husband preceded her in death after 47 years of marriage on January 25, 1976.
In addition to her motherly duties, Ethel helped Clarence with farm work, helped people paper their homes, was often called upon to bring her famous chocolate pies, played cards with friends, went to barn dances, enjoyed crocheting and mending, regularly went quilting in Bunker Hill, and enjoyed her flowers in her yard. One word that describes Ethel is resilient. Through illness and falls in her last 20 years, she has amazingly bounced back, when even she didn't expect it. Her mind has always stayed sharp; and she has, with help, taken care of her own business affairs. She remembered birthdays and other family history remarkably well. She treasured her children, grandchildren, other family, and friends, always delighted to see them. Until her eyesight failed and her fingers became less nimble, she put out requests for mending to help her pass the time. She had great stories to tell of the dust bowl and other stories from her past. She resided with her son Jerry and his wife Jean for the last 15 or so years. Along with her family and friends, she celebrated her 99th birthday in the nursing home where she had rehabilitated from a bout of dehydration. That was the last season she really felt well.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, one son Leroy Bechtel who died in an oil field accident at the age of 39, three brothers, and two sisters.
She is survived by her two sons Jerry Bechtel and his wife Jean of Osawatomie and Roger Bechtel and his wife Jill of Paola; her daughter-in-law Paralee Bechtel of Cedar City, Utah; two sisters Clara McCabe of Olathe and Viola Besthorn of Holyrood, Kansas; six grandchildren Gordon, Spencer, Paul, Troy, and Ty Bechtel and Pam Vande Linde; 11 great grandchildren; other relatives and a host of friends.
A celebration of Ethel's life will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, January 26, 2008 at the Pohlman-Varner-Peeler Mortuary in Russell, Kansas. Visitation with the family present will be on Friday evening January 25th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Burial will follow in the Russell City Cemetery. Memorials are to the Bunker Hill Methodist Church. Condolences may be sent to Pohlman-Varner-Peeler Mortuary * 610 N. Maple * Russell, Kansas 67665. Condolences may be sent via email by going to www.pvpmortuary.com. Pohlman-Varner-Peeler Mortuary of Russell is in charge of the arrangements. A visitation was held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday evening at Eddy-Birchard Funeral Home in Osawatomie.