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Alameda County











Stephen Davison Bechtel, corporation executive, has been identified with some of the largest engineering and construction projects located throughout the world during the past two decades.

      Born in Aurora, Indiana, September 24, 1900, he is the son of Warren A. and Clara Alice (West) Bechtel.

      During World War I he served in France with the 20th Engineers, U.S. Army. He is an alumnus of the University of California, College of Engineering, class of 1923.

      Mr. Bechtel started in the general construction business with his father in 1919 and worked on a number of different construction projects until 1925, at which time W. A. Bechtel Co. was formed. At that time he became vice president of the new organization, and was made president in 1926, a position which he held until this firm’s activities were terminated in 1948. He worked with this company supervising railroad construction, building construction, pipelines, and engineering.

      The W. A. Bechtel Co. was one of the Six Companies Inc., formed in 1931, builders of the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. This organization is generally acknowledged as the prototype of the now widely used contractors’ “joint venture” type of organization. Mr. S. D. Bechtel was the vice president and director of Six Companies Inc., and as a member of its four-man executive committee had charge of administration. In 1934 and 1935 he was the vice president and director of Bridge Builders, Inc., which built the piers for the Eastbay crossing of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and other parts of this project.

      Together with John A. McCone, in 1937 Mr. Bechtel organized Bechtel-McCone Corporation, an engineering firm that engaged principally in the design and building of petroleum refineries and chemical plants. He served as a director from the company’s inception until 1946. This organization, like other Bechtel interests, was heavily employed in the national service during World War II, expanding the scope of its services into new technical fields to meet defense requirements. Under its jurisdiction the Birmingham Aircraft Modification Center was constructed and operated in behalf of the U.S. Air Forces.

      During World War II Mr. Bechtel’s activities centered in engineering and construction geared to the war emergency as well as in the shipbuilding and aircraft programs. He was president and director of California Shipbuilding Corporation from 1941 to 1943, and then board chairman (1944-1947). This large yard on Terminal Island in Los Angeles Harbor delivered 467 ships – Libertys, Tankers, Victorys and Transports. From 1942 to 1947 he was vice president and director of Marinship Corporation (Sausalito, California), builder of fifteen Liberty ships, sixty-two turbo-electric 140,000 barrel T-2 Tankers and sixteen Navy Oilers of similar size and design. He also served as a director of Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation, of Pacific Tankers, Inc., and of Permanente Metals Corporation. He was also a member of the Executive Committee of Contractors Pacific Naval Air Bases (1939-1943), builders of the Navy’s string of Pacific bases.

      Since the end of the war the Bechtel interests have continued to experience an orderly growth. Their principal activities include the engineering and construction of electric power systems, petroleum refineries, chemical plants, pipe lines, industrial plants, and special projects such as mines, metallurgical plants and steel mills.

      The Bechtel Corporation and affiliated companies have been exceedingly active in the Middle East for the past eight years and, among other projects, have just completed the construction of the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line in Arabia. Other foreign countries and areas in which they have been especially active include Alaska, Canada, Venezuela, Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Pacific Ocean Islands, and Indonesia.

      Besides being President and Director of Bechtel Corporation, Mr. Bechtel is Chairman of the Board of Directors of five affiliated companies: Bechtel International Corporation; International Bechtel, Inc.; Arabian Bechtel Company; Constructora Bechtel, S.A.; and Canadian Bechtel Limited. He is a Director of Compania Bechtel, S.A.; Director, Industrial Indemnity Company; Director, Pacific Far East Line, Inc.; Director, United States Lines Company, Director, Joshua Hendy Corporation; and President and Director of Lakeside Corporation.

      He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, and the American Petroleum Institute.

      He is a member of the Business Advisory Council for the United States Department of Commerce; of the Engineering Advisory Council of the University of California; and The Advisory Council of the University of California School of Business Administration. Mr. Bechtel also is a trustee of the American University of Beirut (Lebanon) and a director of the Stanford Research Institute.

      His college fraternity is Beta Theta Pit (sic), and he belongs to the Pacific Union, Commonwealth, Engineers, and Press Clubs of San Francisco, the California Club of Los Angeles, the Claremont Country Club of Oakland, the Cypress Point Golf and Country Club of Monterey, the Shadow Mountain Club of Palm Springs, all in California, and the Links Club in New York.

      Mr. Bechtel married Miss Laura Adeline Peart on September 27, 1923. He has two children, Stephen Davison Jr., and Barbara. He is a Methodist and a 32nd degree Mason.

      His office address is 155 Sansome Street, San Francisco 4, and his home address is 244 Lakeside Drive, Oakland, California.





Transcribed by Marie Hassard 04 January 2014.

­­Source: Eminent Californians 1953, by Lee E. Johnson & C. W. Taylor. Pages 189-191, C. W. Taylor Publ., Palo Alto, California, 1953.

© 2014  Marie Hassard.










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