SAN FRANCISCO—Bechtel Group, Inc. announced in a statement that its former CEO, Stephen “Steve Jr.” Bechtel, Jr., passed away at his San Francisco home on Monday, March 15 at the age of 95.
The engineering company stated on its website and social media pages that “it is with sadness that Bechtel [company] announces the passing of Retired Chairman and CEO Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr.”
Bechtel was a “global figure in business, public affairs, and philanthropy” and “oversaw the company’s growth into a world leader in the construction industry, building iconic infrastructure on six continents and pioneering new technologies, engineering, and construction methods,” the statement reads.
Born on May 10, 1925 in Oakland, CA, Bechtel enlisted in the U.S. Marines after graduating high school and later received a college degree in Civil Engineering from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He then went to Stanford University in CA, where he graduated with a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
In 1960, at 35, Bechtel’s father asked him to take over Bechtel Group, Inc. He agreed to take over, but only if he can run the company himself. He told his father, “‘If you want me to take over, I will. But I’ll have to do it my way. When I take over, I’m the boss,'” the company notes.
Some of Bechtel’s projects include the Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) in SF, the Channel Tunnel (or Eurotunnel) between France and Britain, and King Khalid International Airport in Saudi Arabia.
In 1990, after running the company for three decades, Bechtel retired at the age of 65. Riley P. Bechtel, his son, took over the company until 2016, when his grandson, Brendan P. Bechtel took over as CEO.
Brendan said his grandfather “was driven by his strong values and a vision for helping to build a better world” and “leaves behind a remarkable legacy of accomplishment, integrity, excellence, and commitment to customers and communities,” as noted in a statement on the company’s website.
In 1991, Bechtel was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation (NMTI) by former President George H.W. Bush for “outstanding leadership in the engineering profession with special recognition for his contributions to the development and application of advanced management techniques to world-class industrial projects,” according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The NMTI is “the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement.”
Bechtel is also the recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award and the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. His death comes more than a month after George Shultz, the company’s former president, passed away on February 7 at age 100.