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Matthews honored for 30 years in HPS

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Nancy McFarland brought in a robe she purchased from Prevo's over 30 years ago from owner Bob Matthews. She brought the robe and the bag she brought it home in to the annual meeting of the Heritage Preservation Society, which honored Matthews for 30 years of service Wednesday afternoon during the meeting.
(Photo by ELAINE PECK)
GREENCASTLE -- Bob Matthews is a self-made man. That's what one of his closest friends, Harold Spicer, says about the 86-year-old Putnam County resident who was recently honored for his service in the Heritage Preservation Society.

"He is thoroughly dependable for whatever job he is assigned, he is a self-made man, having supported himself since he was 10 years old," said Spicer.

He is also so much more. Matthews is a father, friend, community supporter, tour guide, doll clothes maker, award-winning quilter, "cool" car aficionado, store manager and owner and expert typist.

He was a founding member of the Heritage Preservation Society, which began in 1976. On Wednesday, the group recognized him with a $500 donation to the Heritage Preservation Society's endowment to the Putnam County Foundation during its Annual meeting.

HPS Board Director Ken Eitel has known Matthews a long time. When Eitel was president of the Greencastle Chamber of Commerce in 1976, he recalled going to Matthews.

"I looked to you for guidance and an opinion," laughed Eitel.

He went on to talk about how much service Matthews gave to helping get the organization going and keeping it moving forward.

"In the last several years, the Heritage Wall has been his real passion," said Eitel. "Thank you for your service."

Matthews was active in the organization in the areas of preserving the courthouse square, getting a historic area survey completed, preserving the Eli Lilly Drug Store in the old Fleenor Building, bringing Main Street to the city and in the restoration of the Opera House.

Matthews served as treasurer of the organization for years and as a board member for the past several years.

"The Heritage Preservation society's accomplishment of its mission is vital for our community to thrive, and they are increasing their sustainability through building their endowment at the Community Foundation," said Eric Wolfe, director of community development for the Foundation.

"Honoring Bob Matthews with this contribution is the perfect way to say 'thank you' for years of service and strengthen the organization for the future all at the same time," he continued.

Spicer recalled how Matthews undertook the leadership for the group and actually campaigned to find successors for the job of directing the society to ensure its continuation.

Contributing to the endowment helps support HPS and honors Bob's wishes.

Matthews moved with his family to Greencastle when he was six months old. His father had just been killed in a cement factory accident. He had his first paying job at the age of 10. He was taken under the wing of Edgar Prevo, owner of Prevo's Women's Store. From there, he worked his way to the top.

Heritage Preservation Society board director Ken Eitel, second from left, presented retiring board member Bob Matthews, left, with a certificate and a donation made in his name to the society's endowment with the Putnam County Foundation at the annual meeting Wednesday afternoon. Accepting the donation are Eric Wolfe and Elaine Peck of the foundation.
"From the most mundane job in the store, he rose to ownership of Prevo's store and successfully directed it for many years after the demise of its founder, Edgar Prevo," added Spicer.

His daughter Mindy Matthews recalled working with her father in the store.

"We all worked in the store during the week. It was closed on Wednesdays and we would all go skiing at Cataract. When I was small I would stand underneath him and we would ski. He was and is a wonderful father," said Mindy.

Mindy went on later in life to ski on a professional team.

She considers her father a bionic man, not just because he was a wonderful and loving father but because he quite literally died and came back.

"In 1982 he was pronounced dead and came back. Two years ago he had an enlarged heart and they cut him from head to toe and he came back. He wintered in Sarasota for three years and stayed in Phoenix for a while but he came back to Greencastle. He turned 86 (on) March 6," she noted with a smile.

Mindy also refers to her dad as a "ladies man."

"The women all love him. In high school he had one of the first hardtop convertibles and he and his friends used it to take their dates to the prom. It was a Ford Fairlane convertible. The women still love him, he has run like the wind," laughs Mindy.

Matthews is a man of numerous talents too. He is an award-winning quilter. His "white on white" quilt was a hit at the Indiana State Fair. He embroiders and sews.

"My dad used to make doll clothes for all the kids in the neighborhood when my brother and I were growing up. I still hear from people today who tell me they wish his store was still there and how well he took care of people," said Mindy.

Before he went to work at Prevo's, he went to a two-year business college and later worked at Allison's in Indianapolis.

"He could type like 100 words a minute," recalled Mindy.

Matthews was president of the Greencastle Chamber of Commerce, a board member for the Greencastle High School Alumni organization and a volunteer at the Senior Center for years. He used to run the tour guides.

He was instrumental in getting the Heritage Preservation Wall going. He researched the people and companies with plaques on the wall. He helped his cousins Lee and Susan Stewart with several of Lee's historic preservation projects such as the stonewall and Swope cabin.

He took over the management of the historical records and their organization from Harold Cook. Matthews was also instrumental in helping preserve the Prevo building.

Matthews is a graduate of Greencastle High School, as are both his children, Mindy and Dwight. His children remember their father as supplying honors jackets for students at the high school as well as bathing suits for the swim team.

Like their father, Bob's children are multi-talented. His son Dwight lives in Burlington, Vt., where he is a professor and chairman of the chemistry department in the College of Arts & Sciences and a professor of medicine in the College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.

Mindy is an artist, among many other endeavors. She is the project director of ArtyGators in Sanford, Fla.

"My dad has helped me with graphics for different events and projects I have had," said Mindy. "He is a very talented man."

Mindy is also following in her father's historic preservationist footsteps. She served as the executive director of the St. Johns River Alliance, whose mission is to preserve, protect, restore and celebrate the St. Johns River as an American Heritage River, only one of 14 designated in the country.

She helped write and produce an hour-long film sponsored by Alliance river community partners about the St. Johns River, "The River Into the New World" It is airing nationally on PBS for the next four years.

"I got my heart from my mother and my art from my father; actually I got my heart from him too," reflected Mindy.

"Thanks for recognizing my dad. He has done a lot for Greencastle and the community, in business, the chamber, senior citizen's Center and for historic preservation. He's a good guy," concluded Mindy.

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Congratulations to Bob Matthews! With such an inspiring life story, he is a legend in Greencastle business history. Multi-talented, witty, a great story-teller, historian, friend and counselor, he has made such a major contribution to the community over many decades...I am sure this 'retirement' just clears the way for new projects and passions. We wish him continued health and happiness.

-- Posted by LPTaylor on Thu, Mar 18, 2010, at 7:45 AM

mr. mathews, my name is bill masten, i remember you from prevo's and also remember your brother gene, congrats on your retirement.

-- Posted by bmasten on Thu, Mar 18, 2010, at 8:28 AM

Congratulations Bob!! You so deserve this honor and you are truly an inspiration to those of us who know you. We need more people like you in this community!

-- Posted by tennismom on Thu, Mar 18, 2010, at 8:42 AM

Hi Bob,

Great to hear you're still going strong. I remember going into your store with my sister as a toddler in the 1950's. Was in scouts with Dwight and hung out with Mindy in high school. My best to all of you.

Jim Mahoney

-- Posted by blindban on Thu, Mar 18, 2010, at 12:58 PM

My uncle Bob is indeed a self-made man, and is deserving of this award. Born and raised in Greencastle, he became a leading businessman and community leader. A 1942 graduate of Greencastle High School. At the age of only six months he lost his father, Richard Earl Matthews,also a leading businessman being part owner of Matthews & Keller Grocery located at 713 Main St in Greencastle. Richard suffered from burns he recieved from a explosion at his job with the Portland Cement Plant in Limedale, along with co-worker William H. Price. Bob's mother, Ella (Masten) Matthews was a widow at the age of 35, his brothers Richard Dennis, 13 and Noble Eugene age 7 also without a father. Bob again suffered a loss of a family member, with the death of his beloved brother Dennis in 1940, at the age of 27, he had sufferd from TB, and later scarlet fever. Bob began working at Prevos in 1944, he went from window dresser to store manager in 1959 and owner in 1975. He married Madelne Huber in 1949, The Matthews family grew with the birth of Dwight Earl in 1951 and Mindy Ann in 1953, There last child, Loretta Dale died one month later in August,1954. Bob and Madeline divorced in 1975 but remained friends. Madeline passed away in 1998. Bob's brother Gene passed away in 1977. Bob has known loss in is life as well as triumph. That is why Bob deserves this award. This and more! Dennis E. Matthews

-- Posted by matthews47421 on Thu, Apr 1, 2010, at 12:10 PM

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