WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – A Wheeling icon was recognized today as a Light Of The Valley.

Tom Bechtel headed up Wheeling’s Recreation Department for 45-years. Now he coordinates the JB Chambers I-470 Sports Complex.

On Wednesday the Wheeling YMCA honored him during a luncheon at Wheeling Park’s White Palace.

Bechtel said he thought the job in the city’s recreation department would probably be temporary. He ended up being on the job for 45-years and retired in 2019.

At the luncheon people said he was a mentor to thousands of kids over the years. They described him as humble, quiet, always working in the background and never with fanfare.

He’s dedicated his life to the youth of the Ohio Valley in his position as recreation director providing lots of opportunities, lots of exciting training and development potential with camps and leagues and he’s just a guy who’s really committed to the Ohio Valley.

Doug Costain, YMCA Board of Directors

Several hundred people turned out to honor Bechtel.

They say he taught each kid-not only athletics, but but how to be a good person. Bechtel was described as a positive presence who embodied honesty, integrity and how to live a quality life.

He continues to serve the community as an official for basketball, football and softball.

A total of $58,000 was raised for the YMCA by this event. Light of the Valley is one of the YMCA’s main fundraisers of the year.