The Morgan community mourns the loss this week of a great leader, service man and friend. Don Mathews passed away in the early hours on Friday, Nov. 23, of heart failure. Don was born in Cedar City on Nov. 8, 1953, to George Clark and Marcelene Mathews. Later his family moved to Orem, where he attended school and graduated from Orem High. An active child, Don especially enjoyed playing soccer and was able to be the team’s goalie. He loved to snow ski in the winter and would often catch the bus to Sundance to enjoy a day out on the slopes. Don especially enjoyed listening to radio broadcaster Paul Harvey and as a child he would run home from school to hear Paul quip his famous tag line “now the rest of the story.” He was well liked as a child and quite the character. He would often be found hanging out with his brother Jeff. He loved to make his family laugh and in turn, they found enjoyment in making Don laugh so hard soda would come out of his nose.
Religion was important to Don and after graduating from Seminary, he served an LDS mission in Mexico City, Mexico. The war and other circumstances had precluded his family from serving and Don was the first Mathews to go on an LDS mission. He was very grateful for this opportunity and after returning home, told his family that “being a missionary is even better than being a super hero”. During his service, Don had many great experiences and touched many lives. Throughout his life the church continued to play a big role as he served in various callings and taught his children the gospel. He also had the privilege of learning the Spanish language, something that has helped him often in his profession.
Don learned to work at a young age and had a variety of jobs, some of which include: picking cherries, being a chef in ZCMI’s famed Tiffin Room, selling life insurance, working for BYU, Mr. Mac, Color Tile, Kennecott, and G & K Services. He was currently employed at Alsco Company in Salt Lake City, where he was the national accounts manager. As such he was able to travel the country frequently, providing leadership as well as training and teaching others. He greatly enjoyed his last 10 years working at Alsco and would often tell his family about the many adventures he and his colleagues had at work and in their traveling.
It was at a missionary reunion that he first met his wife to be Cheri Bell. Later as he would visit Morgan to watch the Morgan High football team, which his sister Diane’s husband Jan Smith coached, their friendship began to blossom. They fell in love and were married April 29, 1976. Don and Cherie were blessed with five children-Ryan, Nathan, Tyson, Melanie, and Melissa, and 11 grandchildren. Family has always been such an important thing to Don and above all, he loved spending time with them. Cheri was the light of his life and the two created a wonderful family atmosphere.
Often he could be seen attending his grandkid’s soccer games, dance recitals, hosting monthly family nights or even face timing his young 3-year-old grandchild Libby, or Liberace as he would often call her. He loved each and every one of them and this love could be seen by all. Each child and grandchild in turn loved their father and papa back. Another important member of the family was his faithful dog Chandler, who Don just adored and would often be at his side.
Although a man of little words, his son Nathan speaks of how his dad would always share what he needed to hear. After expressing his thoughts after a particularly tough day, Nathan waited for his fathers’ advice. After a brief pause, Don asked Nate what he was going to do the next day, to which Nate expressed he would go to work. Don wisely replied “that’s great because tomorrow won’t suck.”
Don had a great passion for serving the community and all those around him. Morgan was blessed to have such a man on the community council after Don ran for the position last year. Using his great leadership skills and his big heart, he had a profound influence on others. According to his daughter Melanie, it was this influence that taught others strength, perseverance, courage and love. He was never preachy but led by example. In the words of his brother Jeff, “he never criticized, just supported, loved and forgave.” He was found frequently giving service to others and was often the first to arrive and the last to leave when someone was in need.
At this time, let us remember this great man and try to live up to his example- one of faith, kindness, unconditional love and service to all.