April 09–Harry Mathews, air traffic controller, flight instructor, and pilot, was blessed with two great loves.
As a youth, Mathews’ grandmother knew how to grab his attention. “She had a way of making Bible stories come alive,” wife Barbara Mathews said. “It was like she knew the characters and made them real to the kids.”.
Moments like this forged Mathews’ faith and modeled the family he would later start.
Mathews died April 5, 2018. He was 86.
Having a penchant for living with purpose, Mathews did what he loved.
As a teenager, Mathews played the drums for the country-western band The Circle Arrow Boys. It was a group that he and his Dalhart High School friends formed.
During those years, he also boxed in the Golden Gloves as a welterweight, son Bryan Mathews said.
His first wife, Loisjane, once jokingly said, “She didn’t marry him because he was a great boxer but felt sorry for him watching him fight with his skinny legs,” Barbara Mathews said.
Loisjane Funk and Mathews, who were high school sweethearts, married before he enlisted in the Air Force to serve four years as an air traffic controller.
It was the beginning of a nearly 50-year aviation career that included air traffic control work at the San Antonio International Airport and later working as a charter pilot for Raytheon Air Services.
“He flew many dignitaries, among them President George W. Bush and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. And once flew a sick parrot to the vet school at Texas A&M,” Barbara Mathews said.
During those years, the family grew with the addition of four sons. Many father-son trips were spent fishing and hiking in southwestern state parks.
And, wherever his job took him, Amarillo, Austin, San Antonio, Mathews was involved with the church. He served as a deacon at Castle Hills Christian Church for more than 10 years, Barbara Mathews said.
During their marriage, Harry and Loisjane became close friends with Carl and Barbara Fields. “Carl died two months before Loisjane’s death in 2007,” Barbara Mathews said.
Going to the same grief counselor, Mathews and Barbara Fields bumped into each other. A romance sparked, leading to their marriage in 2011.
“He had a wonderful way of looking at life,” Barbara Mathews said. “He loved adventure, speed (planes and motorcycles), and everyone was charmed by him. His eyes twinkled, and you were hooked.”
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