Adopted at birth, Brian Bechtel grew up in the small town of Odon. After graduating from North Daviess High School in 1984, he studied Law Enforcement at Vincennes University and Business at Indiana Tech. By the young age of 20, Bechtel married his sweetheart, Janet.
He then began his long career in fire and law enforcement as a jailor and dispatcher for the Daviess Count Sheriff’s Department and a volunteer EMT and Firefighter for Madison Township.
Bechtel had a cousin here in Crawfordsville, who told him Crawfordsville Fire Department was hiring. After researching the area, he and Janet thought it would be a nice place to raise a family, so he threw his fire helmet in the ring for a spot with the Crawfordsville Fire Department. He and a fellow Daviess Co. Firefighter met CFD Chief Dennis Weir and both were hired. Bechtel and his wife found a home here in Crawfordsville and had two sons.
“It’s a great place to raise a family,” said Bechtel.
Over time, Bechtel’s career has taken him in a few different directions. He spent six years as a Lieutenant, and more than 10 years as an inspector, which helped prepare him for the past three years as Division Chief Code Inspector for CFD. Bechtel’s primary duties as Chief Inspector, are safety and code enforcement and fire prevention.
“For me personally, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the greatest people we have here in Crawfordsville. Some of the guys I’ve worked with here have really helped teach me how to be a man and grow up. I’ve had a lot of great mentors here in the department,” Bechtel said. “We have guys who can fix absolutely anything, guys who can do so many things, and when you get a chance to work with all those guys it just makes you a better man. These are the best guys that I have ever known.”
Bechtel also owns and operates Bechtel Taxidermy & Skullworks. He had a friend who was a taxidermist in Daviess County and had preserved a deer for Bechtel years before. This peaked Bechtel’s interest in learning the trade. His friend invited him for the weekend to “watch and learn.”
Bechtel says, after that he came home and started doing his own, learning as he went.
“It was trial by error, and I made a lot of errors,” Bechtel laughed.
He worked very hard to perfect his craft. Feeling confident in his work, Bechtel found the Association of Indiana Taxidermist and entered a competition for their State show.
“I did a deer,” he said. “Thought I’d do pretty-good with it (in competition). That’s where the experts in the business pretty much corrected me in a lot of things,” Bechtel said. “That’s where I really learned how to do it. It’s truly an art. It’s hard to get that expression and the personality of that animal to come through.”
Bechtel says he’s had pleasure of working with some of the best people in the industry.
Bechtel’s wife, Janet, works the business along-side him, doing birds, turkeys, ducks and working on the skull business.
“She’s really very good, she does a great job,” says Bechtel.
The couple have done work for people and companies all over the nation and even have their Taxidermy art on display in a museum in Austin, Texas.
Bechtel and wife are also both active members of the Montgomery County Leadership Academy. However, when he has the time, Bechtel enjoys hunting and fishing.
“My dad took me squirrel and rabbit hunting when I was growing up. I’ve always had a passion for it,” he says.
He’s has been bear hunting in some of the most beautiful places in and out of the country. From the mountainous terrains of Idaho, Montana, and Quebec to the great forests of Ontario, Bechtel has seen it and was even on a hunting Television show in Manitoba, Canada called “All Bear T.V.”, which you can view on his website, www.Bechtelstaxidermy.com.
Bechtel has amazing stories of his wild adventures, including a couple of close encounters with some pretty big bears. However, one of the most profound moments in Bechtel’s life was searching for and finding his biological family. After 32 years he decided it was time, and began his search by putting in an official request with the adoption agency. After several letters back and forth, he was able to meet his two biological brothers and even his grandparents. Bechtel learned his grandmother was actually from Crawfordsville. He also has aunts and uncles who all grew up in Crawfordsville.
“So part of me was always here,” he laughed.
Bechtel took time to write a bit about his adoptive family
“I absolutely had a great family! I have a sister named Tina, my Mom (Darlene) and Dad(John) still live in Odon, it was a great place to grow up and I would not trade anything for it. My folks worked hard to provide for my sister and I. The entire family, aunts, uncles, cousins have always been family. I can honestly say, it never felt like we were excluded from the family in any way. We were truly blessed to have loving and caring parents that always stepped up and supported us. Even though my sister and I have both found our birth mothers we know who our parents are and where we come from. We are also fortunate because our parents have a good relationship with our birth families. They keep in touch.”
Throughout all of Bechtel’s adventures, his greatest yet, is being a father to sons Darrin, 30, and Dalton, 23; grandfather to Camden, 3, and granddaughter Collins, who is almost a year.
“Being a grandfather has exceeded anything anyone had ever told us it would be. We are enjoying every second of it!” Bechtel said.