James Douglas Matthews
February 7, 1919 – February 15, 2018
James Douglas Matthews 99, of Indianapolis, departed this life February 15, 2018. Jim was born February 7, 1919, in Indianapolis to Herbert L. and Goldie May Reeder Matthews. He was the oldest of eight children in a close-knit and loving family. He was a lifelong resident of the city -- born there on the day his father returned from service with Naval Railway batteries during the First World War. Jim grew up in the Martindale, Brightwood, and Edgewood neighborhoods, and often recounted his memories of those simpler times: the movie palaces, camping on the grounds of the Naval Armory where his father served, attending early Indianapolis 500 races, and all the special quirks and characteristics of each and every dog he met. (He had a great fondness for dogs.) The family briefly lived along the Sugar Creek in the small town of Philadelphia, Hancock County, during the depths of the Depression; however, Jim graduated from Arsenal Technical High School back on the eastside in 1936. Upon graduation, Jim volunteered with the Civilian Conservation Corps and was assigned to work in the Wasatch mountain range of Utah. Like his father, he was an avid boxer and he cherished his days in “the C’s” -- especially the boxing matches and tournaments. He worked as a road surveyor and camp education specialist, considering it one of the supreme joys in his life to teach the many illiterate Depression-era men to read. He enrolled in the very first class of Carbon College (now Utah State University Eastern) in Price, Utah, and managed to complete several semesters there even as he worked in the mountains. Jim served in the United States Naval Reserve from 1935 to 1940, and spent several summers sailing on Lake Michigan aboard the USS Hawk. From 1940 to 1945 he served in active duty as a BM1C in the United States Navy – first, with the USS Memphis, conducting Neutrality Patrols in the Atlantic prior to the outbreak of the War; and later, with the USS Vincennes in the combined Third/Fifth Fleet in the Pacific Theater. He was with the fleet from the time of the Battle of the Philippine Sea to the Battle of Okinawa. During that period, he participated in the Philippines Invasion, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and survived the disastrous Typhoon Cobra. In those years he earned eight bronze battle stars and was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation. Upon returning to civilian life, Jim earned undergraduate degrees from St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa and a law degree from the University Of Notre Dame. (In 2004, he also was granted a degree from Utah State University in consideration of his early work there.) He was employed by the United States Fidelity and Guaranty Co. in Indianapolis from 1955 to 1985, first as a claims adjuster and later as a Claims Department supervisor. Upon retiring from USF&G, he became of counsel to the firm of Norris Choplin Schroeder, where he practiced law for over 20 years until retiring again for good in 2009, at the age of 90. Jim married Mary Josephine Doherty in 1957, and they lived their entire life together in the Eastgate neighborhood, where they were blessed with many close friends and wonderful neighbors. Mary Jo passed in 1977. Jim was a lifelong member of Holy Spirit Catholic Church and Knights of Columbus. Jim will be remembered for his deep and abiding Catholic faith, his unflagging good cheer, and a never-failing love for dogs and the game of golf. He played his last golf game at the venerable age of 95. Jim was particularly dedicated to his many nieces and nephews, and their extended families. He will be remembered by all within the family as a warm, gracious, and caring gentleman, who never lost the sense of his responsibility as “the oldest child.” He is survived by his children: Mary Ann (Brian) Sullivan, James M. (Karen Camut) Matthews, Paul S. (Shelly Sower) Matthews, and Eileen M. (Mark) Munden. His siblings: Anna Dillane, and Ethel Gahimer, and his brother Carl Matthews. His 11 grandchildren: Hannah Sullivan (Ryan) Brown, Maura (Mark) Williams, Brian Joseph (Sarah) Sullivan, Michael Matthews, Zachary (Molly) Matthews, Nicholas Matthews, Forrest Matthews, Parker (Asia) Matthews, Chelsea Munden, Grace Munden, and Nathan Munden. And his 10 great-grandchildren: Sebastian, Saoirse, and Cormac Brown; Brian Joseph and Margot Sullivan; Declan Hammond; Grant, Emmett, and Raleigh Williams; and Gwendolyn Matthews. His nieces, nephews, in-laws, first and second cousins -- once and twice removed -- great-nieces, great-nephews, and on, are simply too numerous to be named here, but they were each remembered, carefully placed in an extensive mental genealogy, and cherished by Jim to his dying day. Jim was preceded in death by his beloved wife Mary Jo, his brothers Stan and Herbert, and his sisters Mary (Davies) Bobbitt and Betty Bogan. Calling hours are 4-8 pm on Thursday, February 22, at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Indianapolis. Mass of Christian Burial will be Friday, February 23, at 10 am at Holy Spirit Catholic Church. Memorial contributions in Jim’s name may be made to the American Cancer Society or Holy Spirit Catholic Church.
- Visitaiton Thursday, February 22, 2018
- Mass of Christian Burial Friday, February 23, 2018
James Douglas Matthews
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February 23, 2018
February 22, 2018
Jim and I started at Norris Choplin in January 1986 - he the veteran insurance expert and me the new guy who knew nothing about insurance, Jim was always ready to answer my questions and provide wise guidance working with insurance adjusters and the claims process. Although I had 7 years of trial experience with the Indiana Attorney General, working with new clients and their claims handlers was all new to me. Jim got my started off right with a good set of sea legs. Jim was a delight, a snappy dresser and the women in the office always commented on is great smelling cologne. A scholar and a gentleman and a man i am proud to have known and to have called him my teacher and a friend.
Mary Beth Adams
February 22, 2018
Since childhood Mr. Mathews always stood out in my mind as an Archetype for a kind and just man.
February 20, 2018
I have met very few people with the kindness, gentleness and grace as Jim.
February 19, 2018
February 19, 2018