Princeton doctor Jeffrey Bechler dies at 63

Jeffrey Bechler, a doctor who specialized in sports medicine in Princeton, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family on Thursday, Dec. 29, due to cancer. He was 63. 

Jeff grew up in California and attended Palos Verdes High School, where he played football, basketball, and baseball and met the love of his life, Mary, at a high school dance. He attended Dartmouth College, majoring in economics and playing baseball. He went on to earn his medical degree from New York Medical College, completed his internship and residency at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and completed a fellowship in sports medicine at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles. After three years practicing orthopaedics in San Diego following his fellowship, Jeff and Mary moved to Princeton in 1996, where Jeff joined University Orthopaedic Associates, specializing in sports medicine. He served as the orthopaedic consultant and team physician for Princeton University, enthusiastically standing on the sidelines at Princeton football games for over 20 years. He was one of the rare few who joined a passion to a profession, and everyone he met benefitted from it.   

Jeff will be remembered as a loving husband and father as well as a friend, doctor, and coach. Those closest to him will fondly recall him for his selflessness, loyalty, and quick wit. Many treasured memories of Jeff have a connection to sports. He had a lifelong love for sports—playing, watching, coaching, and caring for athletes. Many people will remember their interactions around his kitchen table, where friends, neighbors, and athletes would ask his off-the-clock medical advice on their latest injuries. His calm reassurance and special sense of humor made him everyone’s first call. 

Jeff is survived by his wife Mary; children Christopher (Olivia), Katelyn, and Scott; father Thomas; brother Scott (Susan); sister Kim; brothers-in-law Bill (Emma) King and Robert (Andrea) King; sisters-in-law Dede King, Tricia (Fred) Kosmo, Debbie (Steve) Killman, Deirdre Neely, Eileen (Mark) Gillis; 19 nieces and nephews; and was predeceased by his mother, Barbara Bechler. 

A Memorial Service is planned for 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7 at Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton. A reception will follow at The Bedens Brook Club in Skillman. Arrangements are under the direction of Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton.

In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes contributions to Nassau Presbyterian Church or to ALK-positive lung cancer research.