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John was born April 12, 1921, the son of Phillip Temple Matthews and Hazel Dickson Matthews, in Peoria, Illinois. He grew up with the Illinois River in his backyard, in the town of Chillicothe. He always said it was a great place to grow up.
He attended Western Military Academy and Todd School where he was a member of the swim team. He later attended Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. He joined the United States Coast Guard, which was taken over by the Navy during World War II, serving in the South Pacific on LST Mine Sweepers until the end of the war, receiving Honorable Discharges from both the Navy and the Coast Guard.
Returning home, John went to work at Caterpillar Tractor Company, working in the Mechanical Drawing Dept. It was there he met his future wife, Marjory Evans Bluhm of Peoria. They married May 3, 1947, and recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. John and Marjory and their three daughters, Debby, Pam and Vicki moved from Illinois to Santa Barbara, California in 1953 and enjoyed six years there. From there, the family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona. During this time John became friends with the famous trick rider/bull rider, Dick Griffith. A lasting friendship developed and John found himself in the Quarter Horse business, a passion that would last for decades.
John had a lot of friends because he was a cherished friend of many. He met Ben Milam through his wife Marjory's cousin. Ben was managing a 50,000 acre ranch in the Clines Corner area of New Mexico. The men became fast friends and enjoyed a friendship that ignored the difficulties of time and distance. They hunted elk in Colorado, deer in New Mexico, worked cattle and you name it. They corresponded on a regular basis between ranch visits. They had been the best of friends for 30 years when Ben succumbed to a massive heart attack in 1998. He was missed dearly for the rest of John's life.
The family moved from Arizona to Fort Worth, where John looked for land to expand his quarter horse interests. He settled on an old ranch south of Aledo and partnered with Lanham Riley on many ventures. He also bought a farm east of Weatherford where the family lived. The girls went to school in Aledo for two years and finished up in Weatherford.
Weatherford would be their home for more than 50 years. They built a new home south of town on Fossil Hill Road, where they lived for nearly 43 years. John sold Farm Bureau Insurance, was a licensed Real Estate Broker and worked for Browder Oil Company. Upon his retirement, John dedicated the last 27 years as a volunteer at the Weatherford Hospital. An extremely generous person, he was the most comfortable when giving to others. He always said he had many blessings. He looked forward to Thursdays at the hospital. Popular with the staff, he was always in a good mood and dearly loved by all who had the opportunity to know and work with him. He brightened everyone's day with honest sincerity, quick wit and unrelenting sense of humor. He believed in passing on compliments and did it second nature. It was a sad day for all when his health issues forced him to resign.
Speaking slow and thoughtfully, he was a man of high intelligence. An avid reader, he was a Civil War buff and read extensively on the subject. Accompanying his wife to Virginia on numerous occasions for her genealogy research put him right on the actual battle fields. One such battle, not far from Bull Run, took place on Matthews Hill, and was documented in the Smithsonian Magazine.
John had acquired an extensive firearm collection, although he no longer hunted, he did have an outdoor target area built at his home. In earlier years he was an avid swimmer, having competed on the swim team in school and later being a certified Red Cross life saving instructor. He played a lot of tennis, always managing to beat his girls. He raced sports cars in his 30's and had a motorcycle until he was 80. He took up jogging in his mid 60's and you could see him all over the area where he lived, logging many miles.
He loved all types of music, from Bobby Fare to Frank Sinatra. He and Marjory took up ballroom dancing and enjoyed years of dining and dancing at the Petroleum Club of Fort Worth with family and friends. He also made sure that his girls knew how to dance with him. His collection of musical instruments ranged from a clarinet, to drums to the guitar. he gave them all a try.
John's literary talents were well known among his family for many years. Letters, written with a passion from a bygone era, shared his deep feelings. His writing was eloquent, fluid and always contained a message. He wrote a series of articles for the Chillicothe Bulletin of Chillicothe, Illinois, about the way it was. A nostalgic glance back in time, his articles were about the people, places, times and daily happenings in a small town on the Illinois River.
Always the giver, John donated to The Pythian Home, Humane Society and the American Cancer Society, in memory of his mother. He was a significant contributor to the Wall of Remembrance at Weatherford Regional Hospital, and The North Side Baptist Church, which he attended until his health declined.
He spent a lifetime loving the Lord and his family. Devoutly Christian, you were truly blessed to hear him ask the blessing before a meal or to say a prayer for anyone in need. John was an emotional person, who was not afraid to tell you or show you how he felt. He was a man of spiritual dedication and enjoyed the opportunity to share or introduce you to the Lord.
John is survived by his wife of 65 years, Marjory Bluhm Matthews, daughter, Debby Farr and husband, James, of Weatherford, daughter Pam Habeeb and husband, Bob, daughter Vicki Smith and husband Gary, both of Fort Worth, granddaughter, Kimberly Washer, of Tracy, California, grandson, Jason Golden of Fort Worth and great-grandchildren, Amber and Craig Washer of Tracy, California, and many dear and cherished friends.