ned w. and helen bechthold
If you’ve traveled on the Marquette Interchange lately, you’ve encountered some of the handiwork of Payne & Dolan, Inc., a company that builds roads and bridges throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan.
Ned Bechthold is chairman of Payne & Dolan, a family business started in 1959. In Milwaukee’s central city, he and wife Helen are building metaphoric roads and bridges for the people living there.
“Years ago, after attending a meeting at the Boys and Girls Club [at 34th and North Avenue], we looked at each other and said ‘something’s not right,’” says Helen.
“We immediately asked, ‘what can we do about it?’” adds Ned.
Their answer was to start a program that helps central city residents get jobs and other services in order to better provide for themselves and their families, and it does this in several different ways: “Sometimes, our company hires them, other times we get them cars to use to go on interviews or we connect them with the social services agencies that can help them,” says Ned.
The program has been in existence for 17 years now.
It was the Bechtholds’ dedication to Milwaukee’s central city community that got them the involved with another entity with the same commitment—Marquette University.
“Years ago, my family owned a hotel at 12th and Wisconsin called the Abbott Crest, so that was my first connection to Marquette,” says Ned, of the site that is now Parents Park on the Marquette campus. “A colleague also encouraged me to get involved on the university’s Board of Trustees.”
Ned has now been a Marquette trustee for 11 years and heads up the board’s administration and government relations committees—making him closely involved with plans to construct new buildings for the College of Engineering and the Law School.
Says Ned, “One of the things Helen and I like about Marquette is they not only educate people, but they also prepare them to go out in the community and help others when they graduate.”
“And there is always someone out there you can help,” adds Helen. “You just have to be curious, and listening.”
In addition to his work with the Marquette University Board of Trustees, Ned has been honored with a Distinguished Service Award from the University of Wisconsin–Madison College of Engineering; serves on the boards of the Milwaukee Foundation and the Siebert Foundation of Milwaukee; and is a board member of the Bradley Center Sports and Entertainment Corporation.
Helen has been active with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee, Junior Achievement, the Marquette University Women’s Council and the Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Museum of Art. The Bechtholds are also supportive of Milwaukee’s central city churches.
The two met on a blind date while students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. They have four children—three boys and one girl—and 11 grandchildren.
“There’s always something going on,” says Helen. “If it’s not school concerts and games, Ned and I are talking business talk. We’re also proud of the fact that our children, who serve on various boards in Milwaukee, are all working hard and giving back.”
Raising “men and women for others.” Perhaps that is the Bechtholds’ greatest legacy of all.