Museum Loses its Generous Benefactor and Friend
Edwin Bechler and his son Richard, donated FREE warehouse space for the storage of the Long Beach Heritage Museum’s artifacts when the Museum lost its building and was about to be thrown out onto the street with no place to go. Both Ed and his son Richard have given FREE storage space for the Museum’s artifacts since 1996. Our grateful thanks go out to both Father and Son. Without them, there would be no Long Beach Heritage Museum. We were shocked upon hearing the sad news of the passing of Edwin. Our heartfelt condolences and sympathy go out to the Bechler family at their loss and this time of sorrow in the passing of Edwin. We reprint the following Press-Telegram obituary for Edwin, published on April 22, 2003, for all of you that might have missed it.
Edwin C. Bechler, a Man of Charity
Obituary: Benefactor to St. Mary and more, Mountain View Dairy scion was 89.
By David Rogers, staff writer
LONG BEACH–Although he was a major benefactor to St. Mary Medical Center and other charities, Edwin Christopher Bechler kept most of his gift giving private.
While a July 25, 1972, Press-Telegram article noted that he donated $35,000 to the hospital’s neonatology program to treat disorders of newborn infants, his son and a board member of the hospital’s foundation said that he almost never talked about his philanthropy. “[He didn’t] expect any reward or glory,” said his son Richard Bechler. “It’s hard for me to find out so many of these things, because he never tooted his own horn…. He would make donations, and he didn’t tell anybody.”
Ed, as his friends called him, was one of the original members of the St. Mary Medical Center Foundation’s board of directors. He died March 31 at age 89. Born in Seattle in 1913, Ed moved to Long Beach with his father Joseph Bechler, who founded the Mountain View Dairy in the city in 1921. The dairy processed milk from its own farms and a network of independent farmers in the greater Long Beach area at its landmark plant on Anaheim Street.
A member of Poly High School’s class of 1932, Ed graduated from USC with a degree in business administration in 1937, and became president of the dairy in 1939. Its dairy stand on Anaheim sold bottomless glasses, or unlimited refills, of buttermilk for 5 cents and double -dip ice cream cones for a dime. Thousands of Long Beach school children toured the Anaheim plant, and washed down their lunches regularly with half-pints of Mountain View milk. Their milk remained a Long Beach staple until the mid-1970s, when the suburbs pushed out the area’s last remaining farms. The Bechlers converted their dairy and feed lots into industrial parks, and Bechler Corp. developed extensive commercial real estate holdings in Cerritos and Rancho Dominguez, as well as Long Beach.
An active member of the Long Beach Rotary club, Ed was a big supporter of the Rotary Scholarship Foundation, and received the club’s “Cup of Kindness” in 1994 for charitable works. He also volunteered for St. Mary Medical Center for most of his adult life. “He was one of our major donors, and a major supported of the sisters. He just loved St. Mary,” said Ike Hancock, St. Mary foundation president. “Ed has grown up with Long Beach…. Some people are just good people. He was.”
Ed is survived by sons Richard, Joseph and James, daughters Georgia Fogg and Barbara Bechler, 16 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife Louise, who died in 1992. A memorial service for Ed Bechler was held April 7 at St. Matthew’s Church in Long Beach. The family requests donations be made to the Long Beach Rotary Scholarship Foundation, 1119 Queensway Drive No. 103, Long Beach 90802; or to St. Mary Medical Center Foundation, 1050 Linden Ave., Long Beach 90813.