Mr. Bechtel, a teacher of mine, passed away last week after a battle with cancer. Some might be surprised to hear me call him a teacher because of his outstanding reputation as a police officer in the Pottstown area. Mr. Bechtel's call to teaching was a call to the periphery of the work week: on Sunday mornings and evenings teaching youth at church.
Among the many things that touched me reading his obituary (which he penned himself) was that he thought of himself as a teacher as well as a police officer.
His obituary (found here) is worth reading. It's a very eloquent reflection on one's life. I hope I can be so eloquent when I am looking at the end of my life.
What do I remember of his teaching? I cannot recall any particular lessons, but I do remember four examples he taught through simply being him.
I remember his expectation that even though we were confirmed high school kids, we still had a responsibility to arrive at Sunday School on time.
I remember the day he came to Church after a night shift in his uniform and sidearm. No time to go home and change. It was time to teach kids.
I remember him happily orchestrating soup dinners served at Church to coincide with the Super Bowl, and how he had all of us teenagers working as a happy, efficient team.
Most importantly, I remember his acknowledgement that the older youth needed a place to call theirs on Sunday morning. It's easy for congregations to overlook the confirmed high school students and let them drift. Mr. Bechtel knew there was a corps of us who sang with choir at 8:00 am then had nothing specific to do until rehearsal at 10:45 am. To him the problem had a ridiculously simple solution: teach them Sunday School.
Mr. Bechtel taught me a lot about service. Service as a Christian. Service as a citizen. Service as a dad. Rest in peace.