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David Bechtel

October 6, 1945 -
November 9, 2021

David Samuel Bechtel, of Savoy, a lifelong resident of Champaign, passed away on November 9, 2021 surrounded by his children. He was a son, brother, cousin, uncle, husband, father, grandfather and friend.

This farm boy from Eureka, IL was born on October 6, 1945. He spent much of his childhood by the side of his Pop…read more

David Samuel Bechtel, of Savoy, a lifelong resident of Champaign, passed away on November 9, 2021 surrounded by his children. He was a son, brother, cousin, uncle, husband, father, grandfather and friend.

This farm boy from Eureka, IL was born on October 6, 1945. He spent much of his childhood by the side of his Pop, Sam Bechtel on the family farm. He also helped his mom, Elsie Nixon Bechtel around the house and cherished his life on the farm. Even though his only sibling, Doris Bechtel Houser was 10 years older than him, they were best friends his entire life. He thought his “Sis” was the best. Doris made him a proud Uncle to Woody and Brad Houser and those boys gave him great joy. While growing up in Eureka, he was actively involved in 4H, FFA, Baseball, Football, Basketball, church, and more.

Dave headed to the big city of Champaign in 1963 to attend the U of I to study Ag. Econ. The plan was to return home to run the family farm but the U of I became a powerful force in his life and he never left. He remained in the C-U area until his death. He caught the Illini bug early and has been bleeding orange and blue ever since.  He was proud to say he held season tickets for 58 straight years to both Illinois football and basketball.

The greatest decision at the U of I, was pledging Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity. Never having biological brothers of his own, he gained brothers not only by pledge ship but by love and respect. In 2004, on the centennial of AGR, he was honored by being named a “Brother of the Century” on the national level. During his alumni life, he created a mass email list-serve before social media, with hundreds of names from around the country and updated this group with news weekly.  His fraternity connection also meant that any interstate or country road travelled in IL was often followed by a statement about which fraternity brother lived in which small town nearby.  His connection to Greek life led him to his first job as Dean of Fraternity Men at the U of I. Later in life, he served as his son’s fraternity faculty advisor, eventually being awarded the Theta Chi National Fraternity Distinguished Service Award, the highest award given to a non-member. He also guided his daughter and her sisters through Greek life in Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity.

He was a Platoon Sergeant/ Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army National Guard. He served in infantry, transportation and supply companies in Ft. Polk, LA, Peoria, IL and Urbana, IL He served with honor and had a great respect for all those in military service.

Dave served the students of his Alma Mater in a 36 year career, as Director of The Career Center, but also in roles as Acting Dean of Students and Associate and Assistant Dean of Students. He was admitted to his profession’s Academy of Fellows “Hall of Fame”, recognizing a 30 year career as a national leader in the field of college career services and corporate college recruiting. He founded the consortium of Big Ten college career service professionals. His Big Ten colleagues named its annual award the David S. Bechtel Career Educator of the Year in his honor. He also co-founded the national Management Leadership Institute which has become a frequent stepping stone for professional opportunities and advancement in the field. He was a prolific researcher on college graduate career outcomes and received national awards and grants accordingly. He made numerous professional presentations, authored articles and book chapters and consulted with businesses and other universities.

He counseled thousands of U of I students and alumni and directed an innovative and comprehensive campus career center that was highly regarded by national peers and was a credit to the U of I. He initiated the concept of career development for undergraduates at the U of I and Illinois was the first in the nation to provide this resource in 1972, now an accepted practice in all 4000+ colleges and universities in America. In his later years he authored “The History of Career Services at the University of Illinois”.

In 1970, he married Ann Davidson and in 1975 and 1978, they had Daniel David and Katherine Ann. Parenthood was Dave’s most important job. His life motto came from the Father’s Book of Wisdom: “Conduct yourself in such a way that when your children think of loyalty, fairness, integrity and humanity … they think of you.” Every day of the last 46 years, he worked hard to be sure his children felt unconditionally loved. Whether he was teaching his adult son to play baseball, writing letters to his daughter to stop getting into fender benders, or guiding them through their missteps and accolades, Dave handled his children like he handled everyone else in his life: with respect, love and compassion.

While parenthood was important, grandparenthood was the epitome of a life well lived. After Katie and Brian had Alaric Arthur and Amara Christine and when Dan and Jennifer had Veronica Harper and Jack Rollins, Dave relished being a Grandfather. When Dan and Melissa got married, Owen Daniel came into Dave’s life and his grandchild number went from four to five. He told us that his heart just grew when Owen and Melissa joined our family. He loved those 5 kids fervently. His greatest joy was attending anything they were involved in. Sitting back at family dinners and watching the kids play and laugh together and build connections made Dave happiest.

He was devoted to McKinley Presbyterian Church and Foundation, serving as an Elder and its longest tenured Foundation Board member. He was the Church Centennial’s Co-Chair and then the Church’s. Historian and Archivist. He helped oversee the building of the new Presby Hall, a state-of-the-art residence hall next to the church. He believed God had an important role in his life and he was always open to learning more about his own and other people’s spiritual paths. McKinley’s mission to be open and inclusive was the perfect place for a man like Dave, who loved everyone he met for exactly who they were, just as Jesus did. His church family over the years became some of his dearest friendships.

After retirement, he served on the State University Annuitants Association of UIUC as a Board Member and Program Chair. He was on the Windsor of Savoy’s Resident Advisory Committee. He wrote the history of the Windsor of Savoy and served as Master of Ceremony at its 30th Anniversary celebration. His social calendar was filled with lunches and dinners with friends, family events to attend, church activities, current events club, and trivia. He played weekly trivia at The Windsor for years and joined a Zoom trivia night during the pandemic that introduced him to new life long friends. While his busy schedule was important, weekly calls with his sis in Iowa took priority. He couldn’t wait for the next family gathering in Iowa City a few times a year. Woody and Mindy gave him great nieces and nephews Samantha (Michael), Alinia (Joe), Benjamin, Taylor, and Matthew. Brad and Becky gave him Madison and Brady. Being able to be with his family and bask in the glow of their love for each other was the time he treasured most.

Whatever Dave did during his life, he led with love. A firm handshake, eye contact, and a smile were the most important life skills he taught. He never met a stranger and people were drawn to him. Everyone who crossed his path thought of him as a man of loyalty, fairness and integrity and they were proud to know him.

A memorial service for Dave will be held on Saturday, December 11th at the Colonnades Club at Memorial Stadium.   A casual visitation will be from 11:30-1 and the Celebration of Life will begin at 1PM. Masks will be required. Dave requests that you wear something orange and blue or Illini. (Zero apologies to his Hawkeye family and other Big 10 Colleagues for making them dress accordingly.)

Memorials may be made to McKinley Presbyterian Church.

Condolences may be offered at morganmemorialhome.com.




Service Information

Visitation Information

Date: Saturday, December 11, 2021

Time: 11:30 am

Service Information

Date: Saturday, December 11, 2021

Time: 01:00 pm

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