Melvin Edward Bechtold, 92, Columbia City, died Sunday afternoon, Nov. 22, 2020, at Miller’s Oak Pointe, Columbia City, where he had been a resident since July 30.
Born to parents William Edward and Edith Lenora (Freshour) Bechtold, on Dec. 2, 1927, in Wabash County, Indiana, he was the second child of 12. Growing up near Roann, he completed elementary school at Roann and graduated from Laketon High School in 1947.
He married his grade-school sweetheart and the love of his life, Doris Ilene (Ulrey), on Sept. 17, 1948. They made their home in Roann, later moving to a farm in Wabash County, then Huntington County, and finally Jefferson Twp., Whitley County. Doris died on Aug. 1, 2001, in an auto accident.
A career-long farmer, he raised dairy cattle, chickens, hogs, sheep, and veal calves. He grew crops and worked at the area elevators, eventually managing the Peabody elevator. His passion was raising and working horses. Participating in area events with his horses, he hosted the Draft Pony and Haflinger Association annual camp-out meet at his farm several times, bringing in several hundred participants with their horses and ponies. For many years he showed horses and participated in horse events at the Indiana State Fair.
Melvin had more talents than farming. He also worked in construction and operated heavy equipment. He was a fireman and First Responder for the Jefferson Twp. Volunteer Fire Dept. serving as Chief from 1987-1990. A member of the Indiana Draft Pony and Haflinger Association, he became the association’s president from 1998 to 2002.
A former member of the Jefferson Chapel United Methodist Church, for several years, he and his wife hosted a live nativity scene on their property adjoining State Road 14.
Surviving are his two children, Dennis J (Charleen) Bechtold, Columbia City and Sue Ann (Mick Dorr) Bechtold, Warsaw; grandchildren, Gwen (Eric) Ruppert, Jon (Sarah) Bechtold, Chris (Melanie) Bechtold, Lance Bechtold, Renee (Joe) Platt, Brandon (Tara) Rittenhouse, Clint (Victoria) Bechtold, Kristen Bechtold, 20 great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren; and siblings, Shelba Jean Neher, Harry (Tom) Bechtold, Terry Bechtold, and Larry Bechtold.
He was preceded in death by his wife, parents, a son, Randy Bechtold; sisters, Opal McColley and Betty McCune; brothers, Billy Jo, Max, Donald, Richard, and Jerry Bechtold.
Due to COVID restrictions, a private service and burial will be held at the Jefferson Chapel Cemetery. Arrangements by Smith and Sons Funeral Home, Columbia City.
Preferred memorials are to Jefferson Twp. Volunteer Fire Dept. or Jefferson Chapel UMC.