Bernard John "Zedo" Matta
February 3, 1936 – July 6, 2019
Bernie was born in Hillside NJ, the son of Margaret Rachko and Patrick Matta. He was the youngest of four children. The family moved to PA when he was three. Bernie was a star athlete at Lansford High School and graduated in 1954. He play every sport they offered, but his favorite was football. His playing nickname was “The Horse”. He was all-state as left halfback and linebacker, and on the All American High School team. Bernie was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1997. Dad was in 10th grade and working as a lifeguard, when he met Gloria Jones at the pool. As soon as they met, he knew they would be husband and wife. She was a majorette and Home Coming Queen at Coaldale High School, and he was the star athlete at the adjoining rival town of Lansford. It was the start of a great love story. Gloria’s mother, Victoria Jones, made Bernie promise they wouldn’t get married until she graduated college. On June 6, 1959 she graduated from Penn State University at 10 am and they married at 2 pm the same day in the campus chapel. While he waited for Gloria to graduate, Bernie finished high school and had over 25 scholarship offers. He visited three schools when his mom said, “stop wasting their time and pick one”. He picked Syracuse University, where he was the blocking back for Jim Brown. Injuries limited his time at Syracuse, and he finished at George Washington University with his BS and MA. Bernie later received his EdS at Tennessee State University. Gloria and Bernie had two sons, Scott and Bruce. Scott married Charlene Beckum and have two children, Aric and Jesse; Bruce married Teri Losey and had four children, Taylor, Bailey, Bailey and Chase. Later, Bernie became a great grandfather with the birth of Clayton, the son of Bailey and her husband Nic Helwig. Gloria and Bernie were blessed with a wonderful family, they cherished the relationship they had and were very proud of them all. Bernie’s military career started in the Navy reserves, then the Air Force and finally the Army. Between active duty for 15 years and the reserves, Bernie was in the military for a span of 36 years. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel, something he never thought he’d achieve. He went through the Engineering Officer School at Fort Belvoir, VA, and finished the Officers Advance course in Fort Benning, GA. He served as a Post Engineer in Germany, a Company Commander in Vietnam and an ROTC instructor for Engineering Students at New York University. Bernie received a Bronze Star for his time in Vietnam and finished his active duty career at Fort Campbell in 1973. Before he chose the military as his first career, he started his teaching career at George Washington University as an Instructor in 1959 and received a Fellowship as his Master’s Degree from George Washington University. His first public school job was in a junior high in Alexandria, Virginia and then at Francis Hammond High School. When he left active duty, he taught at the Fort Campbell Dependent Schools and then went to Columbia Military Academy as the Commandant and Principal of the High School. In 1976, the family moved to Hendersonville, TN. He taught one year at Knox Doss Jr High School and then became the Director of Construction and Maintenance for the county schools for four years. After that he was Assistant Principal of Hendersonville High School for four years and finally finished his career in education as principal of Hawkins Middle School for 13 years. He was a down-to-earth principal who was liked by faculty and students; he even sewed/mended the cheerleader’s outfits when needed. After Bernie and Gloria retired, they were happily together until her death in 2009. Gloria was ill quite some time before her death, but Bernie would rarely leave her side. He wouldn’t even take a few hours to play golf. Bernie was very sad when he lost Gloria. The period leading up to and after her death was very tough on him. Fortunately, he met Ann Knupp via online dating, a widow, and former teacher. They were a great match, and married in 2010. Ann and Bernie enjoyed an active social life with many friends, and loved eating at their favorite restaurant, Three Sons. Bernie even started golfing again. Ann’s daughter, Eleanor Cheeney, and her family were a big part of Ann and Bernie’s life too. Bernie was so fortunate to meet Ann and her family. It really let him live and enjoy life again. Ann and Bernie were together until she passed earlier this year.In February of this year, Bernie moved back to CO. He was active and well liked in the community he moved to, he was even golfing twice a week. He also went on one last trip with his sons to Amsterdam and England for two weeks. It was a very taxing and even more wonderful trip for all. Dad really wanted to go and knew it was the right time. We were all so happy we were able to take that trip. Scott and Bruce will always remember it. Bernie was preceded in death by wife Gloria Jones Matta, wife Ann Bagsby Knupp, and brothers Robert (Bobby) and Richard (Dick) Matta. He is survived by sons Scott Matta and wife Charlene, and Bruce Matta and wife Teri; sister Irene Matta Pudelka, and sister-in-law Faith Matta; grandchildren Aric Matta and wife Jessica, Jesse Matta, Taylor Matta, Bailey Matta Helwig and husband Nic, Bailey Wiedow and Chase Matta; and great grandson Clayton Helwig. Bernie was a wonderful man who had a wonderful life. His was truly a great American tale that will be celebrated for a long time. We miss you pops!
Fond memories of Bernard and expressions of sympathy for his family may be shared using the guest book link below.
- Chase Matta
- Aric Matta
- Jesse Matta
- Taylor Matta
- Bruce Matta
- Scott Matta
- Chase Cheeney
- Funeral Service Tuesday, July 16, 2019
- Committal Service Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Bernard John "Zedo" Matta
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July 17, 2019
I will always remember the time that uncle Bernie and Aunt Gloria came to visit our family at Shaw AFB....Aunt Gloria had a terrible case of poison ivy while she was there....but it was so good to see cousins and my aunt and uncle who we had not seen in a long time, since we were all in military families....my grandchildren call my husband “Zedo” also! Everyone always asks where in the world he got that name......but it always reminds me of family long ago. I also remember when Uncle Bernie came back to Sumter for my daddy’s funeral...(his brother Bob who was only 44). He reminded me so much of him....it was nice of him to share childhood stories with us....and he even proved that he could still do some athletic moves at his age when the kids were all into cheerleading at the time!!!! Nice memories of all of daddy’s brothers and sister.