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Elmer M. Matthews

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Elmer M. Matthews Obituary


Elmer M. Matthews, 87, of Palm Beach, FL and Sea Girt, NJ, died peacefully at home Thursday, February 5, 2015, after a brief illness. Born in Orange, NJ, Mr. Matthews lived in South Orange, Verona, Bernardsville and Sea Girt, NJ before moving to Palm Beach.

He was educated at St. Leo's Parochial School, Irvington, NJ, Regis High School, New York, NY, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree Cum Laude from the University of Notre Dame in June 1947 at the age of 19 where he also ran for the Cross Country Team. He received his Bachelor of Laws from Fordham University in June of 1950 and his Master of Laws in Taxation from New York University in June of 1956.

Mr. Matthews was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army in 1950. During his time in the Army, Mr. Matthews served as Research and Development Contracting Officer for the Signal Corps at Fort Monmouth, and for the Office of the Chief Signal Officer at the Pentagon. During this time Mr. Matthews administered the tri-services military contract placed by the Department of Defense for its Nike Defense System, and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in 1953.

Upon completion of his military service, Mr. Matthews was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly at the age of 28. He served three full terms in the Legislature where his talents and leadership skills were immediately recognized by his fellow members who elected him to serve as Assistant Majority Leader, Majority Leader and Speaker. When he was Speaker of the General Assembly, Mr. Matthews also served as Acting Governor of the State.

During his tenure in the Legislature, Mr. Matthews served on the NJ/NY Bi-state Commission on Personal Taxation and was the prime sponsor of the legislation that provided for the acquisition of the Port Authority Trans Hudson Railway and the building of the World Trade Center by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Upon leaving elective office, Mr. Matthews served on various legislative boards and state commissions, including the New Jersey Tax Commission, the New Jersey Insurance Law Revision Commission, the New Jersey Commission on Legal and Ethical Problems in the Delivery of Health Care and the Governor's Committee on Transportation Policy.

Mr. Matthews was an attorney in private practice for many years. He was a partner in the firms of Sterns & Weinroth and Clapp & Eisenberg. In his later years, Mr. Matthews was Of Counsel to Porzio, Bromberg and Newman and Tompkins, McGuire Wachenfeld & Barry.

Beginning in 1971, Mr. Matthews served as the general counsel of the New Jersey Catholic Conference, representing the Catholic Bishops of New Jersey on matters of public policy for over 40 years.

He has been honored by the Catholic Church as a Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, a Knight Commander of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and a Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Mr. Matthews also received the St. Thomas More Medal from Seton Hall University Law School.

Mr. Matthews was predeceased by his parents John A. and Florence Matthews and his siblings, John, Robert, Mary, Sanford Edwin, Donald and Peter.

Mr. Matthews is survived by his beloved wife of fifty-three years, Marjorie "Peggy" (nee Scatuorchio) Matthews; his loving children Elmer M. Matthews, Jr. and his wife Jennifer of Summit, NJ, Sheila M. Goggins and her husband John of Chatham Township, NJ, Mark G. Matthews and his wife Kathleen of Bronxville, NY, and Stephen C. Matthews and his wife Amy of Chatham, NJ, along with his nine adored grandchildren: Mary, Clare, Sarah-Jane, Brian, Elizabeth, Jack, Margaret, Joseph and Patrick.

Elmer's great loves in life were his family, his Roman Catholic faith, and his country.

Friends may visit at O'Brien Funeral Home, 2028 Hwy. 35, Wall, on Wednesday from 2-4 & 6-8pm. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Mark's Church, 215 Crescent Parkway, Sea Girt, on Thursday at 9:30am. A private family burial will take place at Holy Cross Cemetery, Basking Ridge. For more information or to send condolences to the family, please visit

Published in Asbury Park Press on Feb. 8, 2015
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