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John Lee Matthews

April 25, 1937 - July 23, 2013
Captain John Lee Matthews, USMC retired, passed away in Riverside, California on Tuesday, July 23, 2013, at age 76 after complications from diabetes.
"Big John" was a decorated military veteran who left his mark on many seminal moments in United States history. John began his career in uniform as a Patrolman in the Berkley Police Department. He then served as a Captain in the Vietnam War, stationed there from 1967 to 1969. John was also a 1st Lieutenant in Cuba during the Missile Crisis, and was later stationed at Guantanamo. Following his military deployment, he joined the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, where he served for 26 years as a Deputy, He was a Law Enforcement advisor to Peter Ueberroth, President of the Los Angeles Olympics from 1980 thru 1984.They had been elementary and high school classmates in Burlingame, California. John retired from LASD in 1996.
Born in San Francisco on April 25, 1937, to John Stanley Matthews and Maxine Lillian Matthews, John graduated from Burlingame High School in 1955, where he was a star football player. He went on to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder on a football scholarship, then transferred to and received his Bachelors Degree from San Francisco State University.
Big John was known for his leadership, strength and competitive fire wherever he traveled -- on the football or baseball fields, the boxing ring and the battlefields in Vietnam. He was a formidable opponent in the Police Olympics and was an arm wrestling All Star with no rival.
John could entertain friends and family for hours with stories of his challenges and triumphs. He was known for his warmth, kindness and penchant for good conversation, making sure to stop anyone passing by to chat. John is one of those few people who could light up a room just by showing up - tall, big smile, and reach out to everyone - no exceptions - everyone. Among Big John's favorite quips was one that characterized his time in Vietnam: "the ladies were beautiful and the people who weren't trying to kill me were nice." His disarming sense of humor and flirty demeanor won't soon fade in our memories.
Far beyond his wartime tales however, Big John will be forever remembered for his deep love of family. His conversations always centered around his four children, about whom he would brag to anyone who would listen. He was their biggest cheerleader on the soccer, tennis, baseball and football fields, and his was always the loudest voice on the sidelines at track and cross country meets or the pool. John was dearly loved and will be missed tremendously by his family and dear friends.
John was preceded in death by his wife and true love of 37 years Marshia Anne Matthews, and by his parents in 1990 and 1994. John is survived by sons Britt of Carlsbad and Blake (Shelly) of Pasadena; daughters Amanda Losch (Frank) of Apple Valley and Jessica (Adam) of Los Angeles; grandchildren Annalee, Annika and Mattheus Losch; brother Jeff Matthews (Lori); sisters Jody McMillan (Jim) and Judy Matthews; and nieces Jenny, Candice and Adam Matthews, Sarah and Matthew McMillan, Demetri and Nikkon Arapoff and Glen Boodry. In his later years he was happy, loved and comforted by Yvonne Mitchell.
Services will be held at 11:00AM on Friday, August 2, 2013, at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Riverside. Gravesite services will then follow at Riverside Veterans National Cemetery, prior to a celebration of his life at the VFW in Riverside on Arlington.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers please donate or participate in Movember to support men's health, prostate and testicular cancer.

Published in the Los Angeles Times on Aug. 1, 2013
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