Gorman E. "Gary" Bechard Jr.

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Stonington - Groundbreaking nightclub entrepreneur Gorman "Gary" E. Bechard Jr., 82, passed away after a long illness in his Stonington home on Sunda, Jan, 20, 2013. Best known for singlehandedly igniting the 50s revival of the mid-80s with the popular Boppers nightclub chain, Gary owned and operated numerous bars and restaurants throughout the state for close to four decades. While the original Boppers, opened in 1984, was located in the basement of Gary's Mexican Restaurant Jasper's in Hartford, it was the New Haven Boppers which sealed the club's reputation. Opened in 1986, it became one of the most popular nightclubs in that city's history. Known for its DJ booth built into a 1957 Buick Special, singing DJs, and dancing waitresses and bouncers, Boppers was a nightclub where people of all ages could come and dance the night away. Gary would eventually oversee other Boppers in Stamford, Waterbury, and San Francisco, Calif.

After a tour of duty with the Marines serving in the Korean War, Gary began his long life in hospitality when he opened a coffee shop in Watertown in 1954. He went on to purchase the Park Hotel in Thomaston in 1955, and then opened the Prospect Country Club. He ran the restaurant at the E.J. Korvettes Department Store in Hartford during the 60s.

But it wasn't until 1974, when he opened what would become the first gay bar in the state, Hartford's The Warehouse, that he found his niche with nightclubs. The Warehouse was an overwhelming success, so popular that even Bette Midler once announced from the stage of The Bushnell that after her concert she'd be headed there. It lead to a number of other clubs and restaurants, including Sean Patrick's, Mad Murphy's, Molly Malone's, Cellblock 11, Back Street, Riot at the Warehouse, Chez Est, Collectables, Uncle Al's, and Uncle Dave's, all in Hartford, Jury's Tavern in Storrs, and the Salty Dog in New London.

Gary was born on Dec. 1, 1930, to Gorman and Sophia Bechard in Bristol.

Besides his former wife and loving partner, Grace Bechard, Gary is survived by three sons and daughters-in-law, Gorman and Kristine of Hamden, Thomas and K.T. of San Francisco, Calif., and Sean Bechard of Farmington and Randi Bechard of West Hartford; four grandchildren, Samatha, Madison, Berkeley, and Jennifer Grace; brother, Ray Watrous; as well as many cherished relatives, friends, and business partners throughout the state.

A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, at St. Mary Church, 95 Main St., Stonington. Presentation of military honors will immediately follow at the church. Burial will be private. There are no calling hours.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to (www.stjude.org) or the Danny Thomas Foundation.
Published in The Day on Jan. 22, 2013
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