Obituary for James Terryl “T. Bubba” Bechtol Sr.:
At some point during the early morning hours of 12/18/2021, beloved father, brother, and friend to many. James Terryl Bechtol Sr. AKA T. Bubba passed though the bonds of this physical world to reunite with his mother Winona “Winny” Bryant in the warmth and glory of southern heaven. Pensacola’s favorite Bubba has left the building.
From the wrong side of the tracks in southern Mississippi to the recording tracks of Nashville, Tennessee, T. Bubba was an American success story like no other. Bechtol grew up as James Terryl Bechtol in his youth. He progressed from changing big rig tires at a truck stop in high school, to earning an AA degree from Perkinston College in finance. In 1969, with wife Sally and Terryl Jr in tow he moved to Pensacola to work for Beneficial Finance. In his first year he won the company’s top salesman of the year award topping over 1 million dollars in loan contracts. During this time, he was introduced to the Jaycees, a popular civic organization involved in community service. He joined the Escambia Bay Jaycees and discovered his first calling in life. That was to lead young men in their endeavors to be better businessmen and motivate them to be leaders.
Bechtol quickly rose in the leadership roles on the local and state levels before becoming President of the Florida Jaycees in 1977. Never having lack of ambition, Bechtol decided to throw his hat into the national arena of the United States Jaycees. Just two years after serving as Florida Jaycee President, in 1979 he was elected President of the United States Jaycees. A position that would garner him an audience with two President’s of the United States, national spots with Jerry Lewis on his telethons for Muscular Dystrophy and numerous other national TV and radios shows. Bechtol continued to be involved with Jaycees International serving on their board for several years to follow.
After living for a year in Tulsa, OK, the headquarters for the US Jaycees, Bechtol returned with family to Pensacola. Bechtol took a turn in politics running for congress here in the first congressional district of Florida. He served as fundraising director for President Ronald Reagan in Florida. Bechtol worked for two years in the Reagan White House as a speech writer.
After politics Bechtol became heavily involved with the National Speakers Association, earning his professional designation as a Certified Speaking Professional. He was quickly fully booked on the professional speaking circuit with his unique style of motivation, leadership training and of course humor. His presentation evolved into less motivation and more humor as he continued to hone his craft. He quickly learned that major corporations craved humor for their keynote speakers rather than the same old motivational/leadership trainers and experts they had hired year after year. T. Bubba Bechtol was born and became one of the top five humorist on the national speaking circuit.
The syndicated columnist and humorist heard Lewis Grizzard heard T. Bubba speak at an event and they became fast friends. Bubba joined Lewis’s management team and his second calling took off becoming a full-blown stand-up comic. He made sever appearances on Crook and Chase’s “Music City Tonight”. He was hired by Opryland Productions to host “Boots, Boogey and Blues” at the Governor’s Palace Theater in Sevierville, Tennessee. Then his first performance on the Grand Ol’ Opry was on October 24, 1998. He performed on the Opry over 200 hundred times. He was twice awarded Comedian of the Year by the International Country Gospel Music Association due to his family friendly style of comedy.
He will be sorely missed.
T. Bubba is survived by his two sons Bubba Jr. and Little Bubba. Terryl Bechtol Jr. and Carter Bechtol and his wife Anne. His sister Dixie Smith. His two brothers Lee Bryant and Charles Bryant. The Funeral services will be at the Pensacola Beach Community Church on Tuesday, January 4th, 2022. A public visitation will start at Noon. The service will be from 2 PM until 3 PM. A celebration of life reception will start at the Sand Bar on Pensacola Beach at 4 PM and last until 6 PM or beyond.