Harold "Hal" Eugene Matson
November 2, 1930 – September 26, 2020
Hal, or Dad to us, died early in the morning on Saturday, September 26th 2020 in his West Hills home. He was on hospice services, with loved ones surrounding him. His passing was peaceful. Steve and I felt honored to be with him during his last moments on this earth. Dad was born on November 2, 1930 to Erving and Helen Matson in Kalamazoo Michigan. His sister Joan was born in 1938. Dad recounted fun times he had as a child in Michigan. His father built an ice boat with three runners when they lived near Long Lake in Michigan. He loved speeding on the ice with it. He went ice fishing with his dad and enjoyed sailing in a small boat his dad bought. He and his friends enjoyed playing kick the can, baseball, and sledding down a neighbor’s cow pasture in the winter.
During WWII Dad recounted times were tough due to rationing of sugar, flour, sheet metal, metal in general, tires, and gasoline. Times were tight financially for his family also. Dad took to digging worms and night crawlers which he would see for people to use for fishing. He would sell worms two for a penny and the night crawlers, which were more profitable – for a penny each. On good days he shared he sometimes sold one to two hundred worms. He earned money by going door to door in the neighborhood selling subscriptions to magazines and would sell individual copies of Liberty, the magazine Collins, and the Saturday Evening Post for those who couldn’t afford a subscription of them. Dad was resourceful, he sold bags of dandelions, which people used for soup or in their salads, for ten cents each. He didn’t have his own newspaper route but often helped friends by folding newspapers and delivering them for his friends who were sick or went on vacation.
The money he earned was to help his parents, to buy presents for family and friends, and he enjoyed going to the ice cream shop to get sodas, and confided he could go to the movies for a nickle. He could also catch the bus, or got a box of candy at the movie theater for a nickle. Dad started a savings account at a young age, and was able to buy a new Cushman motor scooter in 1946. He was excited and proud to get that. Dad talked about how they all would gather around the radio when his parents bought one in the 1940’s to listen to popular shows, to hear President Roosevelt’s Fire Side Chats, and to get updates on the war. He acknowledged he was fearful at times of what would happen if the Germans or Japanese invaded the United States. He was very proud of his Uncle Richard who was in Europe during the war, and of the other servicemen and women who were fighting for America.
Hal met the love of his life, Dottie, or Mom to us, at a trailer park in North Hollywood where they each resided with their parents. She was a few years younger than him and he confided he knew she would be his wife someday early on in their relationship. They went to rival high schools. They dated until Dot graduated high school in January and got married on April 28, 1950. Hal and Dot were inseparable during their lives together and loved to play cards, dominos, and board games. They had a mutual love of reading, music, boating, and square dancing. They were blessed with three children Steve, Greg, and Kathy.
Hal and Dottie took Steve, Greg, and Kathy on numerous camping trips to lakes and beaches in California. Emma Woods State Park near Ventura was a favorite place they camped at over the Easter break. Early on they camped in tents, and they later graduated to a few different travel trailers over the years. They moved a single wide trailer to a trailer park near at Pine Flats Lake near Fresno and had a pontoon boat and a ski boat they used there. Family and friends would congregate there to play horse shoes, go boating and skiing, play cards, and have nerf ball fights in the lake. Hal and the other adults on the pontoon boat couldn’t wait to get past the buoys so they could crack open a beer. Invariably Hal, with the help of his sons, would have to work on the motor on the pontoon boat while everyone else had fun in the water the first trip or two out in the boat each season.
Harold joined the ROTC in high school and was in the Navy reserves for six years. He was a Los Angeles County Fireman for thirty years, something he was very proud of. He worked in the fire station as an EMT for four years early in his career and then moved on to be a building inspector and taught fire safety in Los Angeles elementary schools. Steve remembers his Dad arranging for a fire truck to come to his school in the third or fourth grade (which impressed his friends/classmates). Later that morning, his Dad went to his classroom to teach everyone about fire safety. Hal gave the students a surprise short quiz after his presentation which Steve did poorly on as he was goofing off and not paying attention!
Dottie and Hal were avid square dancers during a majority of their marriage. They were members of the square dance club the Jubileers for years. They would help to teach beginning students how to square dance and often went to visit other square dance clubs along with other couples from their club. Mom and Dad, along with eleven other couples from their square dance club, formed a square dance social group called “24 Carrots”. They planned parties, barbeques, camping trips, and other outings and activities together. Hal loved to tell the story of when the “24 Carrots” rented two pontoon boats for a week on Lake Powel. The group in the boat that Hal and Dot were on secretly brought along pirate gear (eye patches, swords, fake jewelry, and a treasure chest). After careful planning they suddenly attacked the other boat, overtook them, and took hostages. Sometimes Steve and I felt like we were the adults with the boring predictable lives while Mom and Dad were out having fun and partying!
Dad was close by Mom's side when she was diagnosed with and fighting lung cancer. He was intent on helping her, advocating for her with specialists, and supporting her for the last seven years of her life. She fought long and hard - they would schedule short trips in their fifth wheel or take senior bus trips during breaks between her chemotherapy treatments. It was a blow to Dad when he finally lost her in 2011. It was Dad’s Christian faith, his family, friends, and neighbors, as well as his resilience, that helped him to get through that terribly difficult time. He baby sat, taught card games, and loved to do three D puzzles with his next door neighbor Joanne and Jeff's two children. They have fond memories of their times with him. He participated in events at the local senior center regularly. Dad liked to play cards and dominos with friends, especially his girlfriend - Edie and their group of friends to help to keep himself busy and fill in the void in his life. It was by the grace of God that he met Edie, the second love of his life, at the Canoga Park senior center. Sometimes he called her “the worm” and when his son asked him why he called her that he replied “Because she is the apple of my eye!” His Christian faith he learned as a child was reinforced and grew in part to Edie’s influence. It was touching to see his face light up when he saw her after she was out of the room or had gone somewhere. Edie was a huge blessing to Dad, helping to fill the void in his life. Our family likewise feels blessed to have her as a part of our lives. The thing Steve and I appreciated so much about Dad was his kindness, sense of humor, and friendliness. He was also very smart. These qualities endeared him to many of the women he met and caused them to gravitate to him. He was very much the gentleman with an old world charm. Even at the end of his life, the hospice nurses, his home health aide, and his caregiver, Lizbeth were impacted by his charm and humor. Dad had a small group of women, which included Edie, who got together three times a week to play cards or dominos. On the last three or four weeks of his life, when his memory and endurance was so compromised he couldn’t play any more he still enjoyed watching the ladies play cards and dominos from his recliner.
Dad was kind, funny, honorable, and a true gentleman. He was greatly loved and admired. He will be missed by his family, friends, and neighbors! We want to extend their gratitude to the staff of Care One Hospice, especially Dad’s nurse Karoline B., for their visits, services, education, and support during the last days of Dad’s life. In lieu of flowers please send donations to Care One Hospice, Tarzana or to the Los Angeles Fireman’s Relief Fund.
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31+
Saturday, October 24, 2020
Harold "Hal" Eugene Matson
October 26, 2020
My Grandpa Hal was a great man and loved by so many. After attending his beautiful service on Saturday it was even more apparent what an amazing life he had. He will be missed by so many but I am comforted in my belief that he is once again reunited with my Grandma Dot in Heaven. Some of my fondest memories are the summer vacations we spent camping at Pine Flats Lake. I have definitely inherited his love for boating and skiing and just having good times on the water. Although we haven’t been there in years I now live in a lake community and always call it my “Happy Place.” I also looked forward to spending every Christmas with my grandparents. One of my favorite memories is them arriving on Christmas Day in their big yellow van that they named Buttercup. It was filled to the brim with presents and one of them was my all time favorite gift... my very first dollhouse! My Grandpa handmade the entire house and every piece of furniture in it. The time he must of spent on every special detail making it means so much to me. I played with that dollhouse for years and years, so many great memories that I am so thankful for. Until we meet again in Heaven Grandpa... You will be so very missed. I love you, Joanna ❤️
October 23, 2020
I miss you so dearly. You were such a kind soul and always enjoyed making people laugh. I remember being so excited to visit and play with all the toys hidden away in the patio at your house. I enjoy art and I remember drawing pictures and being so proud when you’d complement my drawings. When Lisa and I stayed with you and grandma back when we were kids, I remember every morning you two would go on walks and collect cans along the way for recycling. I went with you once and was in awe of how long you two could walk. I never went again (Haha). You were so full of vibrancy and energy, always joking around. I miss you dearly but I know you’re in a better place now with grandma.
I love you so much.
October 16, 2020
When I think of sq. Dancing, I think of Hal & Dottie.... Hal, 52 years of friendship and fellowship, you were special. You were exactly as your kids have described you with your cute little boy charm, great personality, fantastic sense of humor, good looks, and wonderful friend. Did I mention good looking? (He didn't think so). You will be missed my friend. Heaven is waiting for you with open arms. Will see you up there!!!!💕💕
October 15, 2020
My Grandpa had such a great sense of humor. You always had a good time when he was around because of the jokes and stories he would tell.
Grandpa: "Did you hear about the actress that was stabbed?"
Me: "No? What happened?"
Grandpa: "It was that actress, Reese...umm, what's her name?"
Grandpa: "No, with a knife"
When I was little he would grab my nose and say "I got your nose!" Then he'd have his thumb poking through his fingers to make it look like he really did have it. At five years old I thought this was the funniest thing in the world. It became a little routine he would do every time we got together and I always looked forward to it. As my younger sister Chrysta got older he started doing the same with her. I remember getting so jealous that I started to cry because I thought the game was only his and mine.
When I was in high school there was a commercial for the Cadillac Catera on TV that would say "Lease a Catera". Well since it sounds so close to my name, Lisa, it became my new nickname. Every time we'd talk he'd ask me "How are you doing Lisa Catera?" He loved to joke around and have a silly time with us.
I cherish all the memories I have of my Grandpa. Spending time with him up at Pine Flat Lake, our trip to Long Beach, staying with them while my parents went on vacation, and every holiday. I remember long conversations on the phone. Hearing all the wonderful places Grandma and him visited. He was such an amazing man and I owe him so much for everything he and Grandma did for our family. We are who we are because of them.
I miss you dearly Grandpa!