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George Matus


1918 - 2015 Obituary Condolences Gallery
George Matus Obituary
GEORGE JAMES MATUS Funeral services will be held Thursday, March 5, at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church for George James Matus, 96, a dearly loved husband, father, grandfather and family storyteller who lived close to a century in Riverside before relocating to Palm Desert to be with family. He died Feb. 19, 2015 after suffering from pneumonia. A proud World War II veteran, Matus served in the U.S. Navy as a fighter jet mechanic on the Ranger, the nation's first aircraft carrier. He said he crossed the Atlantic twice on the Ranger, the first time transporting aircraft for use in the Battle of Normandy. The second time was to ferry aircraft to a port in Tunisia. He subsequently helped patrol the coast of California and was nearly killed on a foggy night when U.S. aircraft tried to bomb the Ranger, thinking that it was a Japanese warship. After World War II, Matus continued to work for the military as a civilian. His duties include servicing Titan atomic missiles that were based near Denver, Colo.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Rapid City, S.D.; Omaha, Neb.; and Kansas City, Kan. He was subsequently hired by the Central Intelligence Agency and worked for many years in the agency's purchasing department at Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino. He also volunteered with the National Guard until the Korean War when his unit was transferred to the Army, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel. He retired in 1986 but was very active socially with several clubs and organizations, including the National Association of Retired Federal Employees and a square dance club called the Swinging Rebels. He was also active with the Serra Club, both at St. Francis, where he was a Eucharistic minister, and at Sacred Heart Church in Palm Desert, which became his local parish when he relocated to the desert three years ago. A nearly life long resident of Riverside, George loved to sing, dance and tell stories, particularly about his family's Polish and Czech roots and his years growing up in Riverside. He was born prematurely in his family's residence on Houghton Avenue on Nov. 26, 1918 and was baptized on Christmas Day that same year. His parents, Andrew Matus of Sariska Stolich, Presov, Czechoslovakia and Maria Grucela of Galicia, Poland, a small town near Krakow, had recently immigrated to the United States through Ellis Island. Historical records indicate Maria Grucela arrived at Ellis Island on Dec. 2, 1898 in a ship called the Lahn. George Matus said his father made the 8-day trip across the Atlantic the same year. Andrew Matus met Maria Grucela at a street dance and after getting married they initially settled in Alpha, N.J. The entire Matus family later relocated to Riverside in 1911 after Andrew Matus secured work with the dynamite teams that were building Hoover Dam. Andrew and Maria Grucela eventually had 13 children, 11 of whom survived childhood. George Matus was the last survivor of his generation of siblings. George Matus attended school at St. Francis and later enrolled at Frank Wiggins, a trade school in Los Angeles, where he studied diesel engineering and mechanics. George Matus was preceded in death by his son, Gary Randall, in 1971, and by his wife, Ruth Olive Workman, in 1978. Survivors who are direct descendants include his daughters, Sandra Kay Matus of Oceanside and Barbara Jean Wood of Palm Desert; four grandchildren, Wende Lynn Caputo of Brookings, Ore.; Jeffrey John Crider of Palm Desert; Mark Lundberg of Exeter, Calif.; and Kenneth James Lundberg of Henderson, Nev.; and four great grandchildren, Jennifer Nicole Lawrence of Pasadenia; Isabella Marissa Crider, Maxwell Carl Crider of Palm Desert, and Sierra Lundberg of Exeter. Additional family members who he treated like grandchildren include Scott Robert Lundberg of Moreno Valley. A Rosary recital for George Matus will take place at 9:30 a.m., Thursday, March. 5 at St. Francis followed by a funeral service at 10 a.m., which will be immediately followed by a graveside service at Evergreen Cemetery. A private luncheon will follow at the Riverside Women's Club at the corner of 10th Street and Brockton Avenue.
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Published in Press-Enterprise from Mar. 1 to Mar. 4, 2015
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