Jack Calvin Bechtel
Jack Calvin Bechtel was born in Venice, CA, November 4, 1924. After a short stay at the Serenity House of Santa Barbara, Jack passed peacefully in his sleep on June 8, 2019.
Jack grew up in Venice, California, where he and his brother Alpha Gillett had many adventures. A veteran of WWII, Jack served in the Navy from 1943 to 1945, with most of his time spent in the Pacific Theatre. He participated in the Battle of Okinawa as a Sonar Technician aboard a submarine-chasing Patrol Craft Sweeper the US PCS1402. Upon finishing his naval career at the end of the war, he enrolled in college and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Conservation. The department was headed by A. Starker Leopold, Aldo Leopold’s son, and was one of the earliest programs in wildlife conservation.
He started working for the State of California as a wildlife biologist studying waterfowl in the Salton Sea area as well as in the central valley. He later worked on water conservation projects that created reservoirs and recreational lakes all over the state.
He ended his career as a Chief Research Statistician for the Parks and Recreation Department in Sacramento, California. This was where he met the love of his life, my grandmother, Aldona Vilkas and they were soon married in 1972. In 1987 they retired in Santa Barbara to be closer to family. They both enjoyed long walks on Leadbetter Beach and along Shoreline Park.
My grandfather was more than just my “grandpa”; he was a kind, lighthearted soul who always had a smile for everyone in his path. Throughout his life, Jack was a brilliant naturalist who loved to watch and study birds. He was fiercely independent, living alone, driving, and volunteering at the Braille Institute until the very end. His family will miss him profoundly yet we know he is in a peaceful place without pain.
Jack Bechtel was predeceased by his wife, Aldona Bechtel, his step-son Audrys Vilkas, his cousin Paula Carter, and his brother Alpha Gillett Bechtel. Remaining relatives granddaughter Heidi Hullander (husband Michael, and children Megan and Ryan Hullander), granddaughter Karin Napel (husband Jonathan and children Haunna and Patrick Tomas), niece Susan Bechtel, nephew Peter Bechtel (husband Michael Wong), nephew Paul Bechtel (wife Cathy Bechtel), and niece Karen Bechtel (husband Allen O’Neil).
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Braille Institute of Santa Barbara or the Visiting Nurse & Ho pice/Serenity House of Santa Barbara.