Joe passed away peacefully on January 8, 2019. During his last weeks, his family surrounded him with love and support, which enriched his final days and allowed him to joyfully anticipate his reunion with his beloved wife Shirley, his parents Dominica Albina and Joseph Renato Bechelli, and brother Richard. Joe, a native San Franciscan, grew up in North Beach and later settled in the Marina District. He attended Marina Junior High and Galileo High School, where he met and began dating Shirley Ann Hood after she slipped her phone number into his pocket. After attending the College of Marin, Joe began working full-time for ALCO Leather Manufacturing, the business started by his Italian immigrant father. The company was later renamed Bechelli Belts, and as Joe began taking the belt samples on the road he established lifelong friendships with his clients. Joe, along with his parents and brother Richard, built Bechelli Belts into one of the most successful belt companies in the U.S.
Joe married Shirley on January 27, 1951 at Saint Vincent de Paul Church. With joy, Shirley and Joe welcomed their sons Mike, Mark, Greg, and Patrick into their lives. Early on, Joe taught his boys the importance of hard work and family values. On weekends and vacations, the boys couldn’t wait to work at Bechelli Belts helping to pick, pack, and ship leather goods. While Joe knew the importance of a strong work ethic, he also valued rest and relaxation and family vacations. When the boys were young, Joe and Shirley brought them to Guerneville every summer for a fun-filled two weeks. Later, Joe introduced the family to the beauty and serenity he found in the Hawaiian Islands. Joe also loved spending time at their second home in Sonoma, where he enjoyed the beautiful weather and cultivating his vegetable garden.
Joe and Shirley loved to celebrate life with their family and cherished friends. Their annual Christmas party was legendary, and everyone who attended was considered part of their extended family. Joe was an integral part of SVDP’s school and church community, participating in men’s club fundraisers such as the annual themed bazaars and dinner parties in the school cafeteria. In later life, Joe and Shirley, ever the social planners, helped organize bus trips for their Marina friends to destinations including Yosemite, Hearst Castle, and Reno.
Joe’s greatest joy was spending time with his eleven grandchildren and nine (and counting) great-grandchildren. He made it part of his weekly routine to call each of the children to ask about their school days and other activities. He cherished his many visits with the children, teaching them the finer points of coloring inside the lines, playing Bingo, Blackjack, and Checkers, and tending his vegetable garden in Sonoma. Joe loved to discuss past and future trips to Hawaii with the children from each generation in the family. The past two summers, Joe arranged for his growing family of 39 to vacation together in Maui. Along with Shirley, Joe created memories and traditions that his family will continue to practice and cherish.
Joe spent this past Christmas at his home joyfully surrounded by all of his sons, daughters-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He enjoyed every moment of this day and continually expressed appreciation for his family and his long and happy life. He will forever be loved by his four sons Mike, Mark, Greg, and Patrick; daughters-in-law Valerie, Jan, Cece, and Sheri; grandchildren Erin Alvarez and husband Walter, Katie DeMartini and husband Craig, Sarah Clifford and husband Patrick, Matt Bechelli and fiancé Mariel Rossman, Brian Bechelli and wife Stephanie, Jacqueline Zink and husband Josh, Caitlin McSunas and husband Michael, Kelsey Bechelli and husband Travis Urban, Brett Bechelli and wife Adrienne, Beau Bechelli and Grace Goldsborough, and Brea Bechelli; great-grandchildren Danny and Mia Alvarez, Mark, Matthew, and Olivia DeMartini, John and Joseph Clifford, Cooper McSunas, and Noah Zink; sister-in-law Barbara Bechelli; nieces Suzanne, Karin, and Teresa; and nephews John and Thomas.
The Bechelli family would like to thank the physicians and nurses at St. Mary’s Medical Center, S.F. for their excellent medical care and their kindness and compassion. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated on January 26, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. at St. Vincent de Paul Church, 2320 Green Street, S.F. 94123. If you would like to make a donation in Joe’s memory, please consider the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, or the American Cancer Society.