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Warren A. Bechtel

Born: 12-Sep-1872
Birthplace: Freeport, IL
Died: 28-Aug-1933
Location of death: Moscow, Russia
Cause of death: Accident - Overdose [1]
Remains: Buried, Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, CA

Gender: Male
Religion: Methodist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business, Engineer

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Founder of Bechtel Corporation

Warren A. Bechtel, founder of Bechtel, was the son of a farmer, and played trombone in a band as a young man. Unable to make a living as a musician, he worked with a mule to grade railroad track bed, and subsequently he was able to find work on other railroad projects, eventually becoming a foreman and then a contractor. In 1898 he opened his own engineering office, specializing in railroad and irrigation work, and in 1925, with his brother and three sons, he incorporated his office as W. A. Bechtel & Company.

His early work included the Northwestern Pacific Railroad and the Caribou Water Tunnel in the Sierra Nevada. The company's first federal contract for highway construction was signed in 1919, and by the mid-1920s Bechtel & Company was the largest construction firm west of the Mississippi River. When the federal government announced its intention to construct Hoover Dam -- then the largest civil engineering project in American history -- six engineering firms formed a consortium called Six Companies, Inc. Bechtel's company was the consortium's largest shareholder and he was named president, but he did not live to see the dam's completion.

In 1933 he accepted an invitation to consult with Russian engineers and tour the Magnitogorsk and Dnieperstroy Dams in the Soviet Union. Instructed to come alone, he left his wife at a hotel in Vienna and flew to Moscow, checked in to the National Hotel, and there he died of an overdose of insulin on 28 August 1933. After a brief power struggle his son, Stephen D. Bechtel, became president of the firm, which remains the largest engineering company in the world.

[1] Accidental overdose of insulin.

Father: John Moyer Bechtel (b. 19-Mar-1838)
Mother: Elizabeth Bentz Bechtel
Brother: A. V. Bechtel (Bechtel executive)
Wife: Clara West Bechtel (m. 1897, four children)
Daughter: Alice Bechtel
Son: Kenneth K. Bechtel (Bechtel executive)
Son: Stephen D. Bechtel (Bechtel executive)
Son: Warren A. Bechtel, Jr. (Bechtel executive)

    High School: Peabody High School, Peabody, KS

    Six Companies, Inc. President (1931-33)
Bechtel Founder and President (1898-1933)
    Chicago Rock Island and Peoria Railway Company (1889-1898)
    Associated General Contractors of America Co-Founder (1918)
    Associated General Contractors of America President (1929)
    Commonwealth Club of California
    Freemasonry 32nd degree
    Benevolent & Protective Order of the Elks
    San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
    US Chamber of Commerce
    German Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Diabetes

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