Shirley Jo (Purdy) Bechtel, age 83, of Monclova, Ohio, rode off into her final sunset on Saturday, June 15, 2019. She was born to Ralph and Lucille (Ryle) Purdy on September 23, 1935 in Montpelier, Ohio and had one sister, Sandy. After spending her younger years on Kensington Rd. and Pasadena Blvd. in Toledo, the Purdy family moved to Holland where Shirley attended her beloved Holland High School. Shirley cherished her years at Holland, fondly remembering times with friends, cheerleading for the Blue Devils, lunchroom sock hops, and dancing the night away around town. She treasured the lifelong friendships she made with so many of her 1953 classmates. Shirley’s senior yearbook fittingly declared that “A live wire never gets stepped on.” Shirley remained that fun and feisty live wire all of her days.
Shirley played hard and worked hard. Her first job was at Woolworth’s, followed by work as a receptionist and operator for the M.W. Kellogg Construction Company and many years as a sales secretary for Allstate. Her proudest career accomplishment began as a chance meeting at a Drug Emporium in Winter Park, Florida in 1985 when Shirley struck up a conversation with the president of Sun Labs International. That encounter led to the founding of Bechtel Enterprises and brought Banana Boat Sun Care Products to the Midwest. Shirley’s Banana Boat distributorship took her on many adventures throughout the region and across the country. In addition to her business endeavors, Shirley was a master organizer and homemaker, always keeping a meticulous house, car, and garage and well-manicured lawn both during her years at her Cass Rd. home and her later years in her Crystal Ridge villa.
Both in her professional and personal life, Shirley was always blazing new trails and recognizing the next big thing. A dedicated Disney fan, she was one of the first Midwesterners to start making that repeated journey south to The Most Magical Place on Earth. A Walt Disney World guest since it had just one park, two resorts, and her favorite, Fort Wilderness, Shirley introduced many people to what is now the most visited vacation resort in the world. She spent many wonderful times there, as well as other parts of Florida, with family and friends.
Shirley also blazed a trail north to Red Bay, Ontario, Canada to a place called Evergreen. Over the years, she led dozens of Toledo-area families to discover the calming waters, rustic cabins, fishing, singalongs by the campfire, square dancing, talent show, and famed sticky buns of that peaceful little family resort on the Bruce Peninsula. Shirley made the annual trek over 50 times, enjoying it with many family members and friends and also making many more lifelong friends along the way. She recreated the experience closer to home at her own cozy cottage on Iyopawa Island surrounded by Coldwater Lake in Michigan, always inviting family and friends to enjoy the lake life with her.
Shirley loved many things in her life but none so much as her family, especially her son and best friend, Rick, and her grandchildren, Morgan and Evan. She delighted in showing them all the wondrous things in the world, from good restaurants, good movies, great shopping bargains, and the game of tennis, which became a family legacy, to the simple, everyday beauty of singing together at the piano, drives in the country, sunrises, and sunsets. It would be impossible to list all that Shirley loved and appreciated during her 83 years on earth. We are sure she is now enjoying many new and wondrous things in another world and know she will be excited to tell the rest of us all about it when we get there. We love you, Shirley. Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Shirley is survived by her son, Rick Bechtel; grandchildren Morgan (Joe) Rossi and Evan Bechtel; sister, Sandy (Tom) Nichols; special nieces and nephews Michelle Bork, Shannon (Mike) Szyperski, Shawn (Jasmin) Nichols, Donovan (Alycia) Nichols, Theresa (Joe) Ellison, and Sarah (Brian) Rudie; special friends Jeff Redman, Mark Redman, Judy Williams, Bill Steward, and Carl Welter, who helped care for her; as well as countless other friends and family members. She was preceded in death by her parents; grandson, Ross Bechtel; and nephew, Todd Bork.
We invite family and friends to celebrate Shirley’s life on Sunday, September 22nd from 11-4 at Oak Openings Lodge, 5440 Wilkins Rd., Whitehouse, Ohio. Please dress casually and bring your favorite Shirley memories.
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