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Neal Arthur Matson

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Neal Arthur Matson Obituary
Neal was raised in the little Hudson River town of Athens, New York, graduated from Coxsackie-Athens Central School in 1961, earned a Bachelor of Science with honors in geology from St. Lawrence University in 1965 and a Master of Arts in geology from the University of Colorado in 1967. He worked as a geologist in Canada's Northwest Territory in the summer of 1965.
He was married in 1964 to Linda Leolani Pyle and they had three children, Christine, Sonja and Erik.
He came to Alaska in 1967 to work as a young and handsome geologist with the USGS in the eastern Alaska Range. In 1973, he left that career to build a cabin and live with his family in what is now Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve and work seasonally as a field geologist and assistant big game guide. He divorced and returned to the USGS this time as a hydrologist.
He spent one year ('76-'77) in Hawaii and worked briefly on Enewetak Atoll under a University of Hawaii contract with the U.S. military. While in the 50th state, he met Jesus and began his Christian walk.
He returned to his beloved Alaska, moved back into the bush and sought a wife through snail mail correspondence while he worked locally as a carpenter and camp cook. He worked the summer of 1980 evaluating water crossings for the future (still unbuilt) gas line and developed his postal courtship with Felisa Ruiz Terminaz.
At field season's end he flew to Hong Kong to finally meet her, and they married shortly thereafter (Oct. 23) in the Philippines. That winter he built a nipa hut where they stayed until Alaska warmed up the next spring.
They lived in his cabin until the last gasp of the old Homestead Law enabled them to stake claims on the Nabesna Road in 1984. They founded Homestead Christian Church in the new settlement on Easter Sunday, 1985, when another couple joined them in their home church service.
They sold their 10-acre homestead in 1994 and moved to Fairbanks, where Neal taught a volunteer class in American culture at UAF, created the Frozen Fowl Shot Tournament for the American Cancer Society, organized an all-night public Bible reading over summer solstice 2000, ran for State Senate that same year, and wrote the monthly column "The Missionary Position" in the Ester Republic.
Lisa graduated to heaven, peacefully and painlessly at home, as Neal prayed and held her hand on Feb. 9, 2017.
Neal was reunited with her on Nov. 23, 2017. Now Neal and Lisa are together again, forever.
Neal is survived by his three children, granddaughter, Shayna Matson; grandson, Bradley Matson; honorary son, Zhong Lu; and honorary daughter, Bing Shi.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Dec. 3, 2017
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