They've been pillars in the Slatington community for as long as anyone can remember.

Which is why, then, it should have come as no surprise to Joseph and Elizabeth Bechtel when pupils at St. John Neumann Regional School paid respects to them.

Pupils at the school's Slatington campus honored the service of the Bechtel's recently as part of Parents School Month and Catholic Schools Week.

Students were invited to attend morning Mass and the reception that followed. The message to the children and parishioners' was on people of service and how important they are to their community.

The Bechtels' were recognized for over 50 years of service to the Slatington area, Assumption parish and St. John Neumann Regional School. The couple have served the parish, and all eight of their children attended Catholic schools and colleges. In addition, 13 of their 22 grandchildren also attended Catholic school.

"It is the way we were raised," Elizabeth Bechtel said. "Everything revolved around the church, school and the fire company."

Sister Viriginia Stephanie, principal, presented the Bechtels' with a special certificate. Additionally, the pupils provided them with gifts and a special, original song, was performed by the kindergarten class to the couple.

Father Grembocki presented them with a certificate of thanks for service at the church, while Walter Niedermeyer, borough mayor, presented a proclamation for service to the community.

Mike Burke, president of the SJNRS Advisory Board, added his thoughts.

"At this time, when parents have multiple choices for their children's education, we are proud to honor the Bechtels' and the generations of Catholic Education they have supported."

Joe moved his young family to Slatington, and opened Bechtel's Pharmacy in 1961. Elizabeth is involved not only with the church and school, but is also active in the Womans Club of Slatington, the American Cancer Society and the Alter and rosary Club.

The school has two campuses; Slatington, which houses students in grades K-3, and Palmerton, which serves students in grades 4-8.