James W. Matthews

James William Matthews, a longtime Fairbanks, Alaska, resident passed away unexpectedly Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Matthews was born in Willow City to Alice Marie and LeRoy James Matthews on Nov. 5, 1927.

After high school graduation, he enlisted in the Navy, serving from 1945 to 1946, with the U.S. occupation forces in Japan. Following his honorable discharge, he earned a bachelor of science degree from North Dakota State University, Fargo.

He was a partner in the family’s purebred Hereford ranch until 1955, when he began work as assistant county agent in Minot.

In 1957, he moved to Fairbanks to join the University of Alaska as extension agent for Interior Alaska. Early in his career, he earned master and doctorate degrees in adult education at the University of Wisconsin. He retired from UAF in 1987, having served as director of the university’s Cooperative Extension Service for 15 years.

At his retirement, he established a volunteer leadership development fund, with the university, providing grants to help build skills and experience for extension volunteers in Alaska.

Dr. Matthews served for many years on the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Foundation Board, the Fairbanks Community Food Bank and Community Library Board. He was elected to the Fairbanks North Star Borough Charter Commission during its first study of unification for local government.

He was an active member of Fairbanks Lutheran Church, Fairbanks Host Lions Club, University College of Fellows, and Pioneers of Alaska Igloo No. 4.

Along with his wife, Barbara, and children, Stefan and Shannon, he spent many enjoyable times at family cabins on the Goodpaster and Delta Clearwater cabins.

He helped establish, and was first president of, the Goodpaster Property Holders Association, to protect and enhance its outdoor recreational conditions.

He was a longtime supporter of wildlife and conservation values, seeking to emphasize those needs as well as resource utilization. An avid gardener, he enjoyed sharing its abundance with friends, and the leftovers with visiting moose.

Pursuing a lifelong interest in reading, photography and exploration, he traveled extensively to Australia, New Zealand, Alaska’s and Canada’s arctic, Europe and East Africa.

Dr. Matthews leaves behind his best friend and beloved wife of 53 years, Barbara; daughter, Shannon, of Colorado; son, Stefan and his wife, Julie; granddaughter, Taylor, and grandsons,Talon and Tanner, of Parker, Colo.; brother, Glen; sister-in-law, Grace, of Minnesota; and several cousins, nieces and nephews.

His ashes will be scattered near the family cabin on the Goodpaster River.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the James W. Matthews Volunteer Leadership Fund, University of Alaska Foundation, PO Box 755080, Fairbanks, 99775, or to the Fairbanks Lutheran Church Building Fund, 1012 Cowles St., Fairbanks, AK 99701.

A memorial service will be held at Fairbanks Lutheran Church later in February, details pending.

Arrangements entrusted to Fairbanks Funeral Home.

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