FARMINGTON — Farmington — Leland “Bud” Peterman Bechtel, 92, died peacefully on Thursday, Dec. 14, at Franklin Memorial Hospital, Farmington, surrounded by loving family. He was born on May 1, 1925, in Philadelphia, Pa., the son of the late Leora Peterman Bechtel and the late Oliver Leland Bechtel, of Trappe, Pa. In 1939, at age 14, he won the Pottstown PA Soap Box Derby and advanced to the Nationals in Akron, OH.

He received his B.A. Th.B (Bachelor of Theology) in 1947 and his B.D. (Bachelor of Divinity) in 1948 from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Overbrook, Pa.

In 1952, he received a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Temple University, Philadelphia, and his PhD in educational psychology from New York University in 1963. He also studied at the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, and Union Theological Seminary in New York and Harvard University.

He married Claudina Dahl Stafford on June 1, 1946, in Overbrook, Pa.

In 1949 he was ordained into the American Baptist Ministry in Camden, N.J. From 1949 to 1952, he served as pastor at the Alpha Community Baptist Church in Camden, N.J. From 1952 to 1957, he was associate pastor of the First Baptist Peddie Memorial Church, Newark, N.J.

From 1957 to 1990, professor Bechtel was instructor, assistant professor and associate professor of psychology and education at Bates College, Lewiston, where he touched the lives of hundreds of students who also inspired him. During these years, he also taught education and psychology classes for the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, N.B., Canada and the University of Maine system during the summers and evenings.


He served as pastor in the Friends Meeting of Winthrop, and as interim minister at the Court Street Baptist Church in Auburn, and in Farmington at the Henderson Memorial Baptist Church.

In 1987, he and his wife, Claudina, moved from Lewiston to Weld and continued to teach at Bates for three more years until his retirement in 1990. He taught at Bates for 33 years.

While at Bates College, he received numerous research grants, including a grant from the U.S. Department of Education for “The Effect of a Work Plan on the Resumption of an Interrupted Task.” Later he received funding from the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare for researching the “Effect of Electromagnetic Fields Upon Developing Chicken Embryos” and the “Effect of Pre-Natal Auditory Stimuli on Later Behavior of Chickens,” the latter shaping his theories on the connection between pre-natal exposure to loud noise and autism.

From 1971 to 1974, he obtained funding from the U.S. Department of H.E.W. and was director of a three-year research administration project titled “The Detection and Remediation of Learning Disabilities.” This program served numerous preschool and school-aged children in the Lewiston-Auburn area.

Professor Bechtel was also awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to attend the National Science Conference on the Teaching of Psychology at Beloit College in Wisconsin.

From 1982 to 2000, he served as the State of Maine Director of the Mutual UFO Network, further pursuing his interest in paranormal and the extraterrestrial.


He was a member of the Masonic Mystic Tie Lodge 154 of Weld, the Maine American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Mutual UFO Network, the Ancient Astronaut Society, and the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals.

He served on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge Committee of Lewiston and was chairman of the Curriculum Study Committee of the Public Schools of Lewiston to study the elementary and junior high curricula, which among many innovations resulted in the teaching of French beginning in the fourth grade. He also served on the Board of Murphy Foundation for Developmentally Delayed.

While retired, he enjoyed his home in Weld with his dear wife, Claudina, and spent time reading, gardening, and tending to his chickens and the birds, skunks, squirrels, woodchuck, trout, moose, and deer that visited his yard and pond regularly. He became active and committed to the Town of Weld and his many friends there. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather and will be missed tremendously.

He is survived by his wife of 71 ½ years, Claudina Stafford Bechtel, and four of their five children, Mark Stafford Bechtel and his wife, Deborah, of Aviano, Italy; Jane Stafford Bechtel Lafleur and her husband, Joel D. Lafleur, MD, of Camden; Carl Stafford Bechtel of Rockland; and Kurt Stafford Bechtel and his wife, Denise, of Litchfield. Grandchildren are Jennifer Wilcox and her husband, Mark Notash, MD, and daughter, Mazzie, of Colorado; Maurice Cloutier of Las Vegas, Nev.; Adam Stafford Lafleur and wife, Emily, and daughter, Amy Ingraham Lafleur, of Plymouth, Mass.; Sarah Bechtel Lafleur of Cambridge, Mass.; and Marc Bolduc of Denver, Colo. He is pre-deceased by his beloved son, Eric Stafford Bechtel.

Leland Peterman Bechtel

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