Bio: Bechel, Timothy M. (1955 - 2009)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
----Source: Banner Journal (Black River Falls, Jackson Co., WI) November 18, 2009, Front Page
Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Hatfield Chamber head passes unexpectedly
Timothy “Tim” Bechel, president of the Hatfield Chamber of commerce, dedicated much of his time and energy to promoting local tourism and kept his sense of humor along the way.
By Linda Cottrell-Sanders
There has been a blanket of disbelief and loss in a small community that is usually robust and busy. The resort town of Hatfield remains stunned and bereaved with the sudden passing of Tim Bechel, age 54, Nov. 4.
Head of the Hatfield Chamber of Commerce and best friend to everyone he met, there will be no replacing him in the hearts of all who knew him. His obituary states he will be remembered for his unique sense of humor and his practical jokes. That is only the-half-of-it, as his laugh – as only Bechel could laugh – will never be forgotten.
What he has accomplished for this small community on his own initiative has been outstanding in bringing Hatfield back to a vacation mecca after the flood of 1993, which paralyzed the tourism, along with the more recent draw-downs of the Hatfield Dam as it underwent repairs. His achievements were many, but perhaps his most dedicated pursuit as head of the Chamber was in upgrading the annual July 4th fireworks over the lake. He worked year-round to raise money for that event, collecting aluminum cans with the help of volunteers and local donations from businesses and residents. Through the Chamber, he sold t-shirts and hats, even baked cookies to help the cause; he ran raffles, anything he could think of to meet the goals necessary to pay for the expensive fireworks displays. A cookbook with recipes from local residents was in the works and plans are to dedicate the book to him when it goes to press.
Last year’s July 4th was a crowning achievement for Bechel, as the water was raised in the lake and hundreds of spectators watched a dazzling display from their boats on the water, from their campsites or anywhere they could set up a lawn chair or blanket. This year, through meat raffles at local businesses, he already doubled the amount raised last year. He will be remembered fondly in 2010 when the biggest fireworks display ever offered takes place on the lake.
The business of the town was in his hands. He was the unofficial mayor and the get-‘er-done guy when events such as the annual Fun Days rolled around. Local residents shake their heads and wonder just how many people it will take to replace him and keep the community running.
Jason Erthum, owner and manager of Lake Arbutus Sports Shop and vice-president of the Chamber, calls Bechel “Mr. Hatfield” and adds, “no one person could do what he did.” And again, Bechel’s humor is remembered as Erthum recalls the “hat field” set up on each end of town during Fun Days. Bechel’s community monument consisted of hundreds of hats stuck on poles in the middle of a field.
Bechel will be missed by all, but especially by his employers, Ron and Pat Kautz at the Inwood Supper Club in Hatfield, where he was the head chef. “Tim first came to work for us 27 years ago in 1983, and spent half his life her, shared Pat. “He was more like a son to me than an employee.” She related that he began working as a chef before he was 17 years old, working in Texas. Before he came to work to them, he worked at Hooligans, Shenanigans and Fanny Hill in Eau Claire, his hometown; then on to Fannie’s in Neillsville.
Everyone in the community has a Bechel story, but none could say it better than close friend Jolene Ramage, who composed an epitaph for a memorial get-together held locally. She wrote, “Always he had a smile, most especially when a friend was in danger of losing their own.” She reiterated precisely what a community was thinking when she mused, “You will ever be in our memory and our hearts.”
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