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Robert J.M. "Bob" Matteson

1916 - 2015 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Robert J.M. "Bob" Matteson Obituary
Robert J.M. "Bob" Matteson

1916 - 2015 BENNINGTON Robert J.M. "Bob" Matteson, born June 25, 1916, died April 12 surrounded by family at his home on South St. in Bennington, just steps from where he was born and raised. Due to the late hour, his death date was officially recorded as April 13. Bob's fondest childhood memories were of summering with his grandparents on their farm in Shafts-bury. He attended Middlebury (A.B. 1938) and Harvard, where he was among the Masters in Public Administration's first graduating class in 1941. Called to duty in World War II, he served as a Naval officer (Lt jg) in Guam. He returned to Harvard for a PhD in Political Economy in 1953. Bob met his first wife, Janet Meditch, in 1939 as a fellow intern at the National Institute for Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. He went on to a 60+ year career in public service, from the launch of the federal Food Stamp Program and stints at the Institute of Public Administration in New York and American Society for Public Administration in Chicago, to roles as Bennington town manager, Vermont state planning director, and town moderator. In 1965, Bob moved with his second wife, Mary Okimoto, back to Bennington, where he built a reputation for civic engagement. Active with the Bennington Rotary Club, Bennington Museum, the Governor's Commission on Healthy Aging and many other organizations, he also urged community improvement through initiatives like the Bennington 2010 project (1985), the Mayoral Charter Project (2003), and Bennington Tomorrow (2010). Though a veteran, Bob was a lifelong critic of militarism. His unconventional politics reflected a fundamental dedication to a world free of war and the re-localization of governance. As he entered his 70s, Bob began a new career as a Masters runner. He ran in countless road races and, well into his 90s, he set world and American track records at every distance from the 100 to the 10,000 meters. An unconditional admirer of Vermont's rural landscapes, Bob loved hiking, skiing, and canoeing, especially at Lake Shaftsbury, which his family assisted in establishing as a state park in 1974. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Mary; daughters, Brenda Owre, Mollie Matteson, Ruth Banchik, and Carol Kieko Matteson; grandchildren, Ursula Masterson, Summer Wuerthner and Stratton Matteson, Barbara and Benjamin Banchik, Amika and Riya Matteson; and great-grandchildren, Blake and Allegra Masterson. Donations in Bob's memory may be made to the Bennington Historical Society or Veterans for Peace. A public memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, June 20, 2 p.m. at the Second Congregational Church, 115 Hillside St, Bennington.
Published in Bennington Banner on Apr. 22, 2015
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