Bev Pechan

Beverly (Bev) Marie was born Nov. 22, 1937, and was adopted as an infant by Alfred and Hanna Koehler. She grew up in Mahtomedi, Minn., on the shores of White Bear Lake. She graduated from Mahtomedi High School in 1955, and in 1957 married  Raymond John Pechan. They became parents of three children.

Pechan showed an ability to draw at a young age, especially animals. Horses were her favorite. She learned to ride horses at a young age and she and her horse, Blue Moon, would ride in parades in full western regalia. Combining these two passions, she created extraordinary art. Her paintings and drawings are sought after by collectors today. Multi-talented, Pechan was an accomplished writer as well. She incorporated her drawings into the various publications she authored or co-authored. 

Bev was resourceful in those early years, using her talents finding work by designing greeting cards and retouching portraits for Keith Cole, a commercial and portrait photographer at Dayton’s Department Store in Minneapolis. She also taught scrimshaw classes and art classes. 

In 1963, Pechan started writing for weekly newspapers in the Twin Cities area. She had a lifelong love for antiques and collecting and she and Raymond owned an auction house and antique store in the White Bear Lake area.

In 1980 she and her husband moved to Keystone, S.D., where they leased a store selling groceries to tourists. They also repaired and refinished furniture. Pechan began writing for local newspapers, including The Rapid City Journal and three weeklies, as well as contributing historical and human-interest features for local and national magazines.

Bev was the editor and senior writer for Inside the Black Hills magazine in the 1990s and a frequent contributor to the South Dakota Hall of Fame magazine, Deadwood magazine, and niche markets on antiques and equine activities.

Pechan and Raymond eventually divorced, and he returned to Minnesota. Pechan stayed in Keystone, immersing herself in the local history. She was a founding member of the West River History Conference, submitting over 20 papers herself and a charter member of the Keystone Area Historical Society. She was a contributor to the Pennington County History book for the Keystone area. Bev wrote for the Hill City Prevailer News and remained a contributor to The Rapid City Journal. 

She created a set of paper dolls based on the Ingalls family from “Little House on the Prairie,” Keystone Walking Tour brochures and numerous local history booklets, all the while continuing to create drawings and paintings based on local landmarks and animals. Pechan authored one and co-authored three “Images of America: South Dakota” series books by Arcadia publishing.

Pechan loved the Black Hills and especially Keystone; she spent much of her time working there. She was an avid researcher on many topics, but her newspapers articles were mostly about historical subjects.

In her later years, she met the love of her life, Johnnie Harold Trussell. Together they split their time between houses in Keystone, Wall, S.D., and Minnesota.

Bev lost Johnnie to cancer on Aug. 2, 2017, and a short time later, on Aug. 28, 2017, she lost her youngest son, Raymond (RJ) as well. She lived in Wall in a house she and Johnnie bought until illness forced her to move to Minnesota where she lived with her oldest son, Paul, until her death.

Pechan was quiet and unpretentious about her talent, instead recognizing and encouraging the skills and talent of others. She loved history and was a good friend and always seemed to be in good spirits and able to carry on no matter what happened to her.

She died peacefully Feb. 9, 2019, at the home of her son in Circle Pines, Minn., surrounded by family. She was 82.

She is survived by her son, Paul; daughter, Esther; three grandsons, three great-granddaughters and five great-grandsons.

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