Jack Irving Matthews

Matthews—Jack Irving Matthews, 90, on October 3, 2015. Jack was born on July 2, 1925, in a Baltimore County, Md., farmhouse, to Margaret E. and I. Waugh Matthews. A lifelong Quaker, he grew up with a sister and two brothers, feeding chickens, gathering eggs, milking cows, and driving mules. In high school he played sports and competed in agricultural contests and public speaking. After two years in the army he earned a degree at University of Maryland, College Park, and in 1949 married Patricia Whitney Wheaton. A Farm Bureau manager, he was also a traveling sheep shearer, learning to ride and maintain a motorcycle for accomplishing his rounds. He also took a camping trip on the motorcycle to Dallas, Tex., to visit his daughter’s family, including a day of riding in the rain.

Gunpowder Meeting in Sparks, Md., might not still exist if it were not for the presence and spirited support of the Matthews family, which has roots in the meeting that extend through many generations. In the mid-twentieth century, when membership had dwindled to a few families, and First Day attendance might be in the single digits, it was Jack who said “not yet” to the query about whether to lay the meeting down. For Gunpowder Meeting, he supplied sheep from his nearby farm to keep the burial ground grass trimmed until a creative rustler ran them through the meetinghouse into a waiting truck.

When he truly retired and moved from his beloved Baltimore County farm to Chestertown, Md., he learned the art of boating the hard way, his son telling at his memorial service how having capsized a small skiff, he pulled back into port late in the day swimming and towing the boat. A Renaissance man, at 60 he learned calligraphy, mat cutting, and until arthritis finally forced him to stop, used his motorcycle and a remodeled VW camper to travel to juried craft shows up and down the East Coast. He transferred his membership to Chester River Meeting soon after his move to the Eastern Shore.

In his last several years, and up to a few weeks before his death, Jack could be seen tooling around Chestertown, although a pedaled three-wheeler had replaced the motorcycle. He said that the older he got the more his life was enriched by family and friends, that he did not fear age but was not in a hurry, and that he wasn’t going to let his brain run on idle but would do what he could with what he had and where he was at the moment. He said that he would be unstoppable if he could get started.

Jack was survived by his wife, Patricia Whitney Wheaton Matthews, who died on January 4, 2016; two children, Joan Whitney McWilliams, called Jody, and Bryan Leigh Matthews (Susan); five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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