Some centenarians joke they have lived long, healthy lives despite “doing everything wrong.” Eleanor Bechtel, a Luther Crest resident who recently celebrated her 107th birthday, says she never exercised and enjoys wine and chocolate.
“It’s all natural,” she says. “God made me this way.”
Luther Crest staff members agree on the chocolate part. “Eleanor loves anything chocolate!” says Jennifer Laury, activities director at the Diakon senior living community in Allentown, Pa.
Mrs. Bechtel, an accomplished pianist, award-winning gardener, and excellent bridge player, also has given of herself in service: An active member for more than 50 years at Christ United Presbyterian Church in Drexel Hill, Pa., her home in Drexel Hill was, she says, “a home away from home” for many international students attending Philadelphia-area universities …
In fact, the Bechtels became a “second family” to many students from around the world. That connection was particularly evident in the case of Sydney.
Sydney came from British Honduras but was originally from mainland China. He stayed with the Bechtels while studying pre-med at the University of Pennsylvania. His parents came to the area for graduation and stayed with the Bechtels as well as they all attended Sydney’s graduation.
No matter where students came from around the world, Mrs. Bechtel has fond memories of these life-enriching experiences.
He then attended medical school and, at graduation, his parents again stayed with the Bechtels. When Sydney married, both families attended the wedding. He continued to stay in touch with the family as he had children and, later, grandchildren. Although Mrs. Bechtel can longer keep in touch with him, Sydney still does with her.
Other students that come to Mrs. Bechtel’s mind are a young woman from India and a student from Saudi Arabia, but no matter what part of the world the students came from, she has fond memories of these life-enriching experiences.
Eleanor Scheffey Bechtel was born Oct. 26, 1906, in Pottstown, Pa.; her two brothers are now deceased. After having been graduated from Pottstown High School, she attended Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa.
Married in 1936, Mrs. Bechtel and her husband, Jesse Bertolet Bechtel, had one daughter, Susan Bechtel Parker, who now lives in Lower Macungie Township. She has three grandchildren, Sara Parker Henderson of Madison, N.J., Rebecca Parker Abbott of Hockessin, Del., and Thomas Bechtel Parker of Mendham, N.J., and eight great-grandchildren.
Eleanor and her husband, an engineer with the DuPont Corp., traveled the world in retirement.
Currently a member of First Presbyterian Church of Allentown, she had worked before her marriage for the Insurance Company of North America in Philadelphia, where she was an administrative assistant to the executive vice president. Later in life, she worked as secretary to the superintendent of schools in Upper Darby, Pa.