DONALD B. MATHIS (1934 - 2016)

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  • "I just tonight realized that this amazing man is gone. He..."
    - Pauline Urbano Hechler
  • "I'm so sorry for your loss. May your memories comfort your..."
    - C L
  • "We are so sorry for your loss. Donald was a very kind and..."
    - Debbie and Keith Benson
  • "A brilliant, wonderful, complex man. His legacy - Three ..."
  • "I'm so sorry for your loss Sommer and Jeff. He seemed to..."
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DONALD B. MATHIS  

Donald B. Mathis died May 20, 2016, at 82. Places he called home included Amarillo and Austin, TX, Chicago, Washington, DC, New York City, Phoenix and Tucson, AZ; and Guatemala City, Guatemala. Of his many nicknames, the most apt was "Indiana Mathis," for his remarkably varied career and sense of adventure. He was, among other things, a ranch hand, an A&W root beer stand boy, a big rig driver, an archaeological explorer and biological surveyor, the manager of a private club, the manager of a Dixieland jazz band, a supervisor in a brassiere factory, a civil rights organizer, an aide to U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and a campaign director for his U.S. Senate and presidential bids, a regional director for President Lyndon B. Johnson''s War on Poverty programs, an inspector general for the City of New York''s Department of Investigation, the head of a research center at Columbia University, a vice president of Pratt Institute, and director of the Departments of Economic Security and Health Services for the State of Arizona. Above all, he dedicated his life to helping others, whether through his commitment to social justice, as a mentor to many, or by opening up his own home to those in need. Predeceased by three wives, Bibi Besch, Mary (Sommer) Mathis, and Hilda YaquiÁn. Survived by three children, Samantha Mathis of New York, Clayton Mathis of Pittsburgh, and Sommer Mathis of Washington, DC; two grandchildren, Colter and Sydney Mathis of Pittsburgh; and two sisters, Pat Amato of Dallas and Charlotte Middleton of Bartlesville, OK. A celebration of his life will be held later this year in Guatemala City. Donations in his honor can be made to Helps International, helpsintl.org. Arrangements have been entrusted to King Funeral home and Cremation Services, Inc. Expressions of sympathy may be shared at:


Published in The Washington Post on May 29, 2016
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