Monday, November 29, 2010

Daniel Johnson Matthews, Senior ~ b. Feb. 14, 1930 - d. November 29, 2010

Daniel Johnson Matthews, Senior died on his beloved Druid Hills, Georgia hilltop after a fine life indeed a few hours earlier this evening with his eldest daughter Sarah at this hand. He was the son of William Collins Matthews and Antionette Johnson Matthews, born in 1930 in Atlanta with a railroading father and nursery school teaching mother. She started what many considered the first private nursery school in Atlanta with the Out of Doors School with "Miss Annette" teaching a large portion of young Atlanta Jewish children of that era. Matthews was a member of Plymouth Congregational Church in Des Moines, Iowa and has many Johnson-Harris reunions at Rock Spring Presbyterian in Atlanta.

He worked for many years with Meredith Corporation out of Des Moines, Iowa but had returned to Atlanta in 1985. Matthews represented Lewis Grizzard for other newspapers than the AJC as a syndicator for that newspaper columnist and other content for the Des Moines Register syndicate after leaving Meredith a second time. He maintained an impressive collection of Karl Mattern art and stamps among many other esoterica from the Mad Men era and well before.

He was married to Norma Lee sexton Matthews of Marshalltown, Iowa in 1957 (she passed in 1981) and later to Evanlee Jon Daum, formerly of Cincinati, several years back here in Georgia. They take care of 13 properties grandfathered in to all sort of zoning headaches from neighbors in the historic suburb next to Emory.

He attended the Out of Doors School, Druid Hills High School, Georgia Military College (High School) in Milledgeville, Emory University, the Atlanta Division of the University of Georgia, and finally the University of Georgia en route to a degree in 1953. It was in Athens where he wrote for the student run Red and Black newspaper as a columnist.

He attempted to work for National Geographic magazine before taking an advertising job with Meredith Corporation as Advertising Representative with their Special Interest Publications and especially Apartment Life magazine later on.  He lived in Chicago from 1958 until 1963 where the last of his children Daniel Jr. was born, moving to Grosse Pointe, Michigan until 1967, and back to Des Moines once again thereafter. All three kids attended and graduated Theodore Roosevelt High School there.

Matthews also briefly worked in the motor home industry for while, which made for especially entertaining family vacations along the way. He loved to travel to Bayfield, Ontario, Canada, Des Moines, or Colorado, or all over Georgia, sometimes spending a summer or two in Iowa in his later years even after moving back to what he called "the hilltop" ~ 13 properties nestled away in an exclusive little corner of Druid Hills with a large chunk remaining forest in an otherwise overbuilt area.

Frontotemporal Dementia is what got him. It is like Alzheimer's in many ways. In this case it came with mild paralysis and essentially bed ridden since February. There may have been several mini-strokes to go along with the heart attacks, gout, cancer, and what not that had not already put him under.

He remembered his family until the very end. Eldest daughter Sarah was able to be with him at the end. It was very peaceful as he had been in home hospice care for some time now. As horrific a thing to say at a time like this but I must say it: the business of death is even more a fascinating process than Six Feet Under would lead you to believe. Any notice of ceremonies will be duly addressed at a later date and time. It was his wish to be cremated.

Mr. Matthews is survived by his wife Evanlee Jon Daum, and his three children Sarah Antoinette Matthews Pongracz, Emily Elizabeth Matthews (Caponi) and Daniel J. Matthews, Jr.. He was a wonderful father, and I will miss him greatly. Thank you for reading a bereaving son's grief. This was the best way I could think of right away to take care of it.

My father was a kind and gentle soul, one with whom you would have the pleasure of getting to know.  He was known for his generous nature with the many tenants of the hilltop rentals. He taught me many inportant life lessons I cannot begin to go into here. I was proud to call him Pops, and for him to play catch with his boy. For these are the small joys we remember.
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