It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Richard "Doc" Mattson. Dr. Mattson died Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, in Manhattan at the age of 72.
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Dr. Mattson was born Oct. 13, 1941, in Grand Island, Neb., to Harry T. and Constance M. (Ruben) Mattson.
Richard received his bachelor of science degree in horticulture from the University of Nebraska in 1964 and his PhD in horticulture science from the University of Minnesota in 1969. Upon arriving at K-State, he worked with the department of horticulture faculty, Karl Menninger, Rhea McCandliss and adjunctive therapy staff at the Menninger Clinic to develop the first horticultural therapy bachelor's degree that was approved in 1971.
Dr. Mattson, known to many from his teaching and mentoring at Kansas State University, was integral in the growth and promotion of horticultural therapy. His research focused on physical, mental and spiritual benefits of gardening for people of all ages, conditions and abilities. In the 1990's he began community gardens, and he bore a special love for developing children's gardens.
Doc lived by the philosophy of raising the self-esteem for those who are under-privileged and at risk by giving them the opportunity to care for these plants and this belief lead him to develop programs for the mentally challenged, for prisons, nursing homes and developmentally disabled facilities.
He taught at KSU from 1969 until the present directing the Horticultural Therapy Program. Dr. Mattson served as a major advisor for more than 300 undergraduate students in horticulture and horticultural therapy, 60 masters of science and 14 PhD graduate students. "Doc" traveled far and wide as a lecturer, scientist, writer and educator. He co-authored horticultural therapy books, numerous publications and journal articles. He was in the process of writing a Human Dimensions of Horticulture textbook.
He served for three years as editor of the Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture, 15 years on the board of directors and three years as treasurer of the American Society for Horticultural Science and National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture. Dr. Mattson received the Faculty Service Award from the National University of Continuing Education Association in 1989, the National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture's Midwestern Regional Outstanding Teaching Award in 1989, the Gold Medal Award from Garden Clubs of America in 1990, and the Faculty Adviser of the Year Award by K-State Blue Key Honor Society in 1990.
In addition, Dr. Mattson received the Distinguished Faculty Award of Merit from K-State's Chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta in 1993, the Dave Mugler Distinguished Ag Faculty Award by K-State's Ag Alumni in 2000, and the National Great American Gardeners Award from the American Horticulture Society in 2002. On his office wall hang multitudes of awards, but his most treasured award was being selected by students and fellow educators as Instructor of the Year.
"Doc" built a legacy of love, peace and hope to family and friends that will last for generations. He lived his life around his love of gardening, reading, and educating, and he always helped others before helping himself.
"Dr. Mattson's legacy will be carried on through those he taught and mentored," notes MaryAnne McMillan, HTR, president of the American Horticultural Therapy Association. "He inspired so many of those who work today to spread the word and elevate the profession that he so loved."
Those left to cherish his memory are a brother and sister-in-law, Tom and Kaye Mattson of Chapman, Neb.; a sister, Jeanne Carlson of Kearney; four nieces and nephews, Dan Smith of Columbus, Neb., David Smith of Newton, Sara Brandl of Omaha, Neb., and Tim Mattson of Grand Island, Neb.; six great-nieces and great-nephews; his uncle, Bob Mattson of New York; an aunt, Arlene Mattson of Denver, Colo.; and his devoted Harvest Greenhouse staff.
Dr. Mattson was preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Constance Mattson; and a brother-in-law, Donn Carlson.
Funeral services were held Feb. 27, 2014, at Chapman Baptist Church, Chapman, Neb. The family has requested memorials be sent to the Merrick Foundation Scholarship Fund, c/o Solt Funeral Home, 1507 17th St., Central City, NE 68826. (308) 946-3095. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.soltfh.com.
Solt Funeral Home
1507 17th Street Central City, NE 68826
Published in The Kansan from Mar. 15 to Mar. 17, 2014