The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

November 19, 2009

Bechtel gives amazing $50 million

GLEN JEAN -- Stephen Bechtel Jr., chairman of the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, was at the Glen Jean Armed Forces Reserve Center Wednesday to hear the Boy Scouts of America unveil plans for The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve and by far, he was the most popular man in the building.

Bechtel's foundation donated $50 million -- the largest gift in Boy Scouts history -- to develop the 10,000-acre property.

"I think it's going to be a great thing for the Scouts, for West Virginia and the country," Bechtel told The Register-Herald.

He said he took a tour of the property while in the area.

"It's beautiful. I think the site they got here for the scout center is terrific," he commented.

"I've had a long and proud affiliation with scouting, which helped me clarify and confirm my personal values and beliefs and helped develop me as a young man."

Bechtel is a San Francisco-based business leader, philanthropist and lifelong supporter of Boy Scout programs.

Born in 1925, he earned his Eagle Scout rank in 1940 as a member of Troop 4 in Piedmont, Calif. He's since remained active at both the local and national levels.

"In my book, and in my opinion, the Scouts are one of the best organizations. They really build character and inspire young people to do something with their lives," he said.

"Our youth today are critical to the future success of our country and our society. Scouting builds a foundation for these young people who will be our leaders in business, in our communities ... and as educators of others."

Bechtel was the third-generation leader of the global engineering and construction firm that bears the family name.

He led the company from 1960 to 1990 and currently serves as retired chairman and director. He's also the chairman of Fremont Group, a private investment firm headquartered in San Francisco.

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