Cleo Maxine Bechtel: A Tribute to God’s Grace

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
—1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV), Maxine’s chosen life-verse

Cleo Maxine Bechtel was born on December 10, 1928, in Mallard, Iowa, to Cleo and Helen Searcy. A 1946 graduate of West Des Moines’ Valley (Junction) High School, she played musical instruments and basketball—what Searcy sisters did! Like many post-war graduates proficient at shorthand and typing, she settled into a downtown clerical job. There she met a desk mate named Buzz whose invitation to a Clear Lake camp would change her life forever on June 19, 1947. That very day God captured her heart with the gospel of Jesus Christ. This new life in Christ would motivate her to seek God, study and memorize the Bible, sing His praises, teach children the scriptures, and serve Him with passion and joy all her days.

Grandview Park Baptist Church (Des Moines) became her worshipping community and her outpost for service until health problems at last sidelined her. At church she met a handsome WWII sailor who swept her off her feet. They married in September 1949 and settled into a small East Side house near Grand View College. God gave them five boomers (Jim, Ron, John, Sandy, and Phil) whom they faithfully nurtured with the help of many aunts, uncles and cousins and a big church family. (She absolutely loved being a mom and grandma!) Despite many afflictions of body and soul, they remained faithful to their marriage vows for over 68 years.

After retirement as a legal secretary, Maxine employed her culinary genius to bless many with tasty foods and hospitality. Her passion for justice and righteousness drove her to editorialize issues, catching notice of fans and foe alike. She even served a term on the local Human Rights Commission.

In the summer of 2008 a paralyzing stroke would test her endurance and deepen her trust in the mercies of God to the end of her days. Her journals, filled with legible scrawl newly learned by her left hand, often affirmed the goodness of God despite irritating ailments that drained her patience. As late as her last evening alive on earth, she was verbally longing for heaven while affirming her submission to remain until the Lord was "done with me" here. Just hours before her death, amidst unspeakable discomforts and indignities, several witnessed her saying to visiting granddaughters, "See you in heaven." Such assurance testified to the peace of Christ that bound her soul and graced her lips frequently. Her last hours included “singing” along with others the old Christian hymns she loved and hearing the Scriptures read. At one point she asked for Psalm 1 to be read, and then she quoted it nearly verbatim.

Many will miss her but will never begrudge her wish to be with Christ, to leave behind her "worn out body" (her words), and to finish her journey well. Her decades of volunteer ministry, her singing God’s praises until a stroke stole her soprano voice, her lifelong care of family and friends, and her determination to live honorably before God—all leave behind a fragrance of Christ. With thanksgiving many now rejoice that God answered her prayers and theirs on October 2, 2018.

Maxine was preceded in death by her husband, Bill, in December 2017. In July 2016, when he could no longer thrive alone, he had moved from their Eastside home and had joined her at Sunnyview Care Center in Ankeny. There Bill was her right hand! There he competed (well, played his best) with her in 4-5 Scrabble games per day! How she missed his company and spoke longingly to be with him in Glory.

She was also predeceased by their firstborn son, Jim (2003) as well her parents and five siblings. She is survived by four children, Ron (Ruth) Bechtel of Gig Harbor, WA, John (Joann) Bechtel of Powers, OR, Sandra (James) Hawbaker of Crossville, TN, Phillip Bechtel of Ankeny, IA; 12 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Maxine wanted a sincere expression of gratitude to be spoken to all who have walked alongside her with gentle healthcare (especially the team at Sunnyview), spiritual encouragement (especially pastor and deacons from Grandview), and gracious friendship during her most difficult final decade. Her Good Shepherd and King, Jesus Christ, deserves praise for how He sustained her and keeps his promises to all who believe. To that effect those who gather at her funeral will sing, indeed, as she requested!

Memorial gifts may be made to Wycliffe Bible Translators, account #248580 (Hawbaker), PO Box 628200, Orlando, FL 32862-8200. Thank you!

Condolences may be expressed at:

Service Details

Monday, October 8, 2018
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Grandview Park Baptist Church
1701 E. 33rd Street
Des Moines, Iowa
Monday, October 8, 2018
12:00 pm
Grandview Park Baptist Church
1701 E. 33rd Street
Des Moines, Iowa
Highland Memory Gardens Cemetery
Des Moines, Iowa
Hamilton's near Highland Memory Gardens
121 NW 60th Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50313
(515) 289-2442

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