Bench honors Pechan

Leslie Silverman

A memorial bench celebrating the life of Bev Pechan now adorns Keystone Cemetery.

The bench was donated by her son, Paul Pechan, as a way to commemorate the ties his mom had to Keystone and the Black Hills.

“She loved that cemetery,” Pechan said. “She used to say it was the only one in the world where you could see Mount Rushmore.”

Knowing how humble his mom was, Pechan thought the best thing he could do was to put a bench in that people could sit on and use and enjoy.

The bench has a laser picture that Bev had once submitted to the state of South Dakota when they were enlisting ideas for a commemorative stamp. While she did not win that honor, her child on a horse in front of a school image drew a finalist merit.

The back of the bench pays homage to Bev’s late husband, Johnnie, who Paul characterizes as the “love of her life.” It also commemorates her son Raymond. Both men died within weeks of each other in 2017.

Bev had a rich history in her adopted town of Keystone. With no formal education beyond high school, Bev was considered the town’s historian.

“My mom loved history,” Pechan said. “Even as a child I remember her wanting to visit historical places.”

Bev was an avid researcher, “searching out hidden people in the Hills and writing stories about them.”

Pechan said his mom loved the Hills and “devoted her whole life to publicize it.”

Pechan, too, shares that his mother was “always an artist.”

She wrote for several newspapers in the area (including this one), gave tours, owned an antique shop and would “draw your face on Mount Rushmore.” Her artwork is scattered all over the world and her most famous Keystone book, “Keystone and its Colorful Characters” was published by the Keystone Area Historical Society in 1991 for the town’s centennial.

Bev died peacefully in Minnesota in February of 2019. She left a legacy of writings, research and art behind.

Some of that artwork in addition to old town photographs can be seen at the Keystone City Hall and Community Center.

“I didn’t want her to fade out of existence,” Pechan said.

The Bev Pechan bench sits right on top of the Keystone Cemetery by the flagpoles, which overlook Mount Rushmore.

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