John A. Matthews

MANISTIQUE – John A. Matthews, 97, of 304 Lake St., Manistique, Mich., died March 13, 2014, at the Schoolcraft Medical Care Facility in Manistique.

He was born July 8, 1916, in Crandon, Wis., the son of George and Julie (Pataska) Matthews and moved to Manistique as a child. He was a graduate of St. Francis de Sales School and Manistique High School with the Class of 1934. While in high school he excelled in basketball and gymnastics. He later attended Ferris Institute, Manistique Freshman College and was a graduate of Michigan State University in 1940. He also played basketball, tennis and football in college. During World War II, he served in the United States Army. On Feb. 5, 1940, he married the former Marjorie “Helen” Chaperon in Manistique.

John worked as a commercial teacher in Iron Mountain and Manistique and also for the U.S. Air Force. He later became self-employed, owning Matthews Accounting Service in Manistique for 25 years. Thereafter he became the chairman of the Schoolcraft County SBDC and worked at Putvin’s Drug Store. He also served as the Manistique Community Development director, the Manistique housing director and as Manistique city manager.

He was always an active member of St. Francis de Sales Church and parish in Manistique. He served as altar boy and usher and was a CCD Instructor, basketball coach, and member of the boy’s choir. He was elected to the first board of education, was a chairman of the Parish Administration Board and was the first president of the Parish Council.

While wintering in Florida, he attended St. Timothy Church in Tampa and the Most Holy Redeemer Church in Tampa where he served as altar boy, usher, Extraordinary Eucharistic minister, lector, commentator and sacristan. He was a member of the Bishop Baraga Association, being co-chairman of the annual Baraga Day Association meeting. He was elected as Baraga Association Man of the Year in 1983 and started Baraga Days in Florida.

He received the Knight of St. Gregory conferred by Pope John Paul II and was formally conferred by Bishop Schmitt at the Cathedral in Marquette.

He served on the board of directors of the Bishop Noa Home, serving as secretary and later as treasurer. He was a Cursillo member in Marquette, professor in the Soo, rector in Manistique and also a secretarial member. He was also a member of the Marquette Diocesan Synod, with the Commission on Finances and the Executive Finance Committee. He later served on the Diocesan Budget Committee and the Diocesan Steering Committee for Pastoral Council.

He was an Extraordinary Minister and a member of the Deanery Commission.

John started the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Manistique, acting as the first president and manager of the store. He further helped negotiate the purchase of the building. He was instrumental in starting the Baraga Days in Florida.

He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, first as a Third Degree and later as a Fourth Degree. John served as Committee Chairman, Chancellor, Lecturer, Treasurer and Grand Knight. He further served as Building Association Treasurer, Third Degree Master, District Deputy, State Catholic Activity Chairman, State Warden, State Advocate, State Squires Director, State Treasurer, State Secretary, State Deputy, Vice Supreme Master and State Director of Vocations. He later was a speaker and master of ceremonies over two hundred times in Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and Ontario.

He is survived by his sister, Helen Nault of Indian Head Park, Ill.; along with nieces and nephews.

In addition to his parents and wife Helen on Feb. 10, 2009, he was preceded in death by his sister, Dorothy Conlin; and his brothers, Edgar and Edwin Matthews.

Visitation will be held from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 19, at St. Francis de Sales Church in Manistique. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the church with Father Glenn Theoret officiating.

Burial will be in the Fairview Cemetery at Manistique. Memorial donation may be directed to St. Francis de Sales Church.