Claudina Bechtel

Obituary of Claudina Stafford Bechtel

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Claudina Dahl Stafford Bechtel

1926-2023, Age 97

(ROCKPORT, MAINE) Claudina died on October 3, 2023, after a brief period of hospice care at the Sussman House in Rockport, Maine. She was born in the Prospect Park West section of Brooklyn, New York on August 15, 1926.  She lived most of her life in Lewiston and Weld, Maine and her final years in Camden, Maine

She was the daughter of the late Mildred May Herndon (Stafford) and the late Bart Lanier Stafford, Jr of Mobile, Alabama, Brooklyn, NY and El Paso, Texas.

In her younger years she served as a proofreader in Manhattan and later in the Brooklyn Navy Yard proof reading contracts for the US Navy. She maintained this skill until her death, often finding spelling and grammatical errors in books, word-find puzzles and on television. In fact, in her final days, she was challenging the family to find homonyms and solving word puzzles in her brain.

She was educated at Eastern Baptist College in Philadelphia, PA.  She was predeceased by her husband of 72 years, Leland P Bechtel, Bates College Professor Emeritus, who died in December 2017. Together they had five children.

Claudina was very involved with Bates College students, providing housing and comfort to numerous students while her husband taught there for 33 years.

Prior to her retirement, she worked for the Androscoggin Head Start as the Director of Social Service and Home-Based Head Start for 21 years from 1972 to 1993. She noted this was a very special time of her life.

From 1971-1974, she was a Parent Visitor in the Learning Disabilities Program for Lewiston Auburn pre-school and school aged children. She connected with children and families in downtown Lewiston and Auburn, many of whom remembered her for decades.

From 1967-1969, she was the YWCA Teen Director and prior to that served as Radiology Assistant at the Central Maine General Hospital.

She served on numerous boards including the Board of CMMC, the Board of Directors for the Tri-County United Way, the Board of Community Concepts, the YWCA Board of Directors, Tri-County Mental Health and in her younger years, the American Baptist Home Mission Board serving four years and traveling to Puerto Rico and Haiti on a fact-finding tour.

After moving to Weld, Maine in 1987, she became an active member of the Weld Extension Service, the Tumbledown Tackers Quilting Group, and the Chair of the Social Services Committee in Weld. She served as President of Franklin County United Way from 1995-1998.

She enjoyed reading, traveling, quilting, and entertaining. She was proud of the fact that her ancestor Arthur Pendleton Bagby of Alabama served as a Governor, US Senator, and Ambassador to Russia. She constantly reminded her children of their heritage, roots and family tree and made sure they understood the names of their ancestors, as well as the importance of public service.

She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother and will be missed tremendously.

She is survived by four of their five children: Mark Stafford Bechtel of Tucson, AZ; Jane Bechtel Lafleur and husband Joel Lafleur MD of Camden, Maine; Carl Stafford Bechtel of Rockland Maine; and Kurt Stafford Bechtel and his wife Denise of Litchfield Maine.

Grandchildren are Adam Lafleur and wife Emily of Gorham, Maine; Sarah Lafleur and husband Henry Bodkin, RN, of Union, Maine; Jennifer Wilcox and husband Mark Notash, MD of Pennsylvania; Maurice Cloutier and wife Christine of Nevada; Marc Bolduc and wife Megan of Colorado; Michael Cole of Maine; and many great-grandchildren.

Claudina was predeceased by her husband Leland Bechtel, her brother Bart L Stafford III, her beloved son, Eric Stafford Bechtel, and daughter-in-law Deborah Bechtel.

There are no services planned. In lieu of flowers and other remembrances, her family asks that contributions be made to NAMI-Maine, the National Alliance for Mental Illness, 52 Water Street, Hallowell, ME 04347 or to the Leland and Claudina Bechtel Endowment fund at Bates College to provide scholarships to Psychology students volunteering in local schools and organizations.

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