Thomas Thurston “Tom” Bechtel was born in San Angelo, Texas to Evelyn Doyle Bechtel and Russell Glen Bechtel on January 3, 1935. He died in Casper, Wyoming, on November 27, 2019 at the age of 84.
He lived in Texas until 1950, when the family moved to Wyoming. Before moving, he spent most summers in the Bighorns with his grandparents in Hyattville and Tensleep.
Tom attended NCHS, graduating in 1953 and then attained his degree in architecture at Colorado University in Boulder. During college, Tom spent summers in Casper, and built his first cabin on Casper Mountain. He served in the US Army at Fort Belvoir and did masters work in Engineering Management at George Washington University.
He returned to Casper in 1962 and began architectural work under Robert Whirly and Harold Engstrom, gaining his professional license in 1962. He spent the next five years working as the Casper City Planner. During this time, he led the city’s Parks and Recreation Study, helped plan the downtown beautification project, which included the curving design on 2nd Street, led the Sandbar Urban Renewal Project, and acquired more than $6 million in grant funding for city projects.
He met Linda Thompson on a blind date in 1962, they married on June 15, 1963.
In 1970, he opened his own architectural and planning firm and continued working until his death. As an architect, he completed more than 500 unique projects. Beginning in 1970, Tom and Linda helped develop 11 different subdivisions in Casper and on Casper Mountain.
Tom and Linda had a special love for Casper Mountain, having lived for the first years of their marriage in the small cabin that Tom built during college. Later, they spent many weekends and holidays there, and were part of the close-knit mountain community for most of their lives.
He was community-minded and spent considerable energy on civic projects, including helping plan and develop city and county parks and the Casper Ice Arena and Rec Center. He was the President of the Casper Rotary Club, was appointed to the State Parks Board and was involved in several musical groups.
Tom was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1991. Despite the challenges of having MS, his determination and infallible positive attitude allowed him to enjoy every day. Although his professional and community contributions were many, it was this determination and the kindness and respect he showed to others that will be his greatest legacy.
Tom was preceded in death by his father, mother, and sister, Diane Ready. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Linda, his children, Leslie (Scott) Van Orman, Jeffrey (Stacey Buckelew), Steven (Ellen), two grandchildren, Samuel and Anabel and numerous close friends who are considered part of the Bechtel family.
For all of their help, special thanks are given to the staff of Intermountain Home Companions, Life Care Center, Veterans’ Administration Home Based Primary Care, Frontier Home Health, Wyoming Medical Center, Optimal Physical Therapy, and dear friend Vivian Grant.
Services are at 2:00pm, Friday, November 6, 2019 at the Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery Chapel. A reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing to the Child Development Center of Natrona County, Wyoming Medical Center or a charity of your choice.
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