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George Benjamin Matthews

1926 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
GEORGE BENJAMIN MATTHEWS On April 28, 2019, George Benjamin Matthews - one of America's greatest generation - passed away at home in the company of his loving family and loyal dachshund Dolly, after a brief battle with Lymphoma. Ben was born on January 17, 1926 in Colorado Springs, CO to Charles Donald and Frances Daubert Matthews. His father, A WW1 veteran, sustained lung damage from mustard gas leading them to leave New York for the clear air of the West. They eventually settled in Chico, CA where Ben attended Notre Dame Elementary and graduated from Chico High School. In 1943, at the age of 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served with the 5th regiment of the 1st Marine Division in the campaigns of Peleliu, Okinawa, and the liberation of North China. Ben liked to recount a surprise meeting with his brother Hogan on Guadalcanal where subsequently Hogan handed over his substantial poker winnings to send home to their mother. In 1946 Ben enrolled at Chico State where he joined Delta Psi Delta. He served as Commissioner of Men's Athletics and Vice President of the Student Body. "Bird Legs Ben" was a member of the track and football teams. He was assistant football coach at Chico State from 1952-1953 for a FWC championship team. While attending Chico State, he captured the heart of "Little Nell" Alma Jean Jones. They were engaged while he served in Korea with the 5th regiment. Upon his discharge, they married on October 28, 1951. Ben started his career in education at Hooker Oak Elementary teaching 6th grade in a classroom of 50 students. In 1957 he became principal of Citrus School and worked summers at Chico Area Recreation District supervising youth baseball. He helped start Chico Youth Baseball comprised of Pony, Colt, and Lion leagues for 13-18 year-olds. Ben retired as Director of Elementary Education for Chico Unified School District, culminating his 35 years of service. Upon retirement Ben considered golfing at Bidwell Municipal as his new vocation as well as traveling and helping farm almonds at the Jones family ranch. He thoroughly enjoyed adventures with SIRS, Thursday nights at the Elks, his grandchildren, a good book, his dog, and a Manhattan straight up. As a perennial Chico State Wildcat he was a proud member of Chico State Alumni and Century Club. He loved the Marine Corps, Chico State, and his family. He is survived by his devoted wife of 68 years Alma Jean, his daughters Leanne (Gil) Hubbell and Marla (Pat) Ward, grandchildren Adrienne (Mike) Trkay, Ben (Audrey), Carly Hubbell, and John Ward. Pop-Pop's adored great-grandchildren Audrey Jane, Ginny, and Joseph Benjamin Trkay; George, Beyla, and Giancarlo Hubbell will miss him, as well as his canine companion. He was predeceased by his brother Hogan Matthews, and is survived by his cherished sister Patricia Spear, and several nieces and nephews. In his own words, "That's all Folks!" Semper Fi George B. Fight Fiercely! In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in his memory be made to the Chico State University Foundation, Department of Athletics. Ben's family invites you to attend a celebration of life at the Chico Elk's Lodge on Manzanita Avenue on Friday, June 14th at 11:00 AM. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.brusiefh.com
Published in Chico Enterprise-Record on May 19, 2019
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