memorial

Fred Matthies

Aug. 29, 1927 - Nov. 16, 2022

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Fred Matthies August 29, 1927-November 16, 2022 Fred Matthies spent his final days among loved ones in the comfort of his Portland, Oregon home. After a long battle with congestive heart failure, he died peacefully on November 16th. Though not a superstitious man, Fred liked to point out that he was born in the Year of the Rabbit– August 29th, 1927 – and that luck had smiled on him all his life. There is a strong case to be made that he was right! For starters, he was adopted from Holy Cross Hospital in Spokane, Washington by Silas and Myrtle Matthies, a prosperous couple from the area. They loved Fred as if he were their own, and he had no idea he’d been adopted until he was an adult. It is said that adopting a child can improve the odds of conceiving one, and sure enough, Fred was blessed with a little brother named Si in 1930. The family moved to Ogden, Utah in 1931, where, despite the country’s severe economic woes, Fred spent a mostly idyllic youth playing baseball, hunting, and getting into mischief with his brother. He also developed a keen interest in astronomy, and it would become a favorite hobby, along with golf, for decades to follow. Fred was in high school when WWII broke out. He recalled the young men in the classes immediately preceding his who were killed in action, but by the time Fred graduated from Ogden High School in 1945 and reported for duty at the Naval Base in San Diego, the war was luckily all but over. Fred attended Reed College, graduating in 1949 and received his MD at the University of Chicago, in 1953. The sudden death of his father led him back to Ogden, where he joined the practice of Frank Bartlett and his son Jay Bartlett. Fred always said he was very lucky to start his career with a mentor as wise as the elder Bartlett, who emphasized the importance of humanity in medicine. In 1955, he married the young widow Claire Shaw, adopting her two sons, Alan and Rich, and two daughters, Lynn and Janet, in the process. A third daughter, Karen, was born to the couple in January of 1957. Ultimately the marriage did not work out, but as luck would have it, a few years later he met Susan Arentz when they were introduced by a mutual friend at a party in Salt Lake City. They wed in June of 1969, just in time to watch the lunar landing together. A year later they had a son, aptly named Silas, while he was completing his residency in Pediatrics at Stanford. Other residents said he was the kindest and most patient doctor of their group with the hospitalized children they cared for. On August 29th, 1972, Dr. Matthies was working as a pediatrician in East Lansing, Michigan when Susan gave birth to their second son Carl, who was lucky enough to share his father’s birthday. The bulk of Fred’s career was spent training residents at the Family Health Center, a clinic serving lower income residents in Carson, California. The clinic was often under threat of closure because his bosses at UCLA saw lucrative specialization, not general practice and primary care, as the future of medicine. Through it all, Fred would say how lucky he was to be able to treat the sick, and to work with dedicated colleagues committed to the same goal, rewards which far exceeded any financial compensation and more than made up for the slings and arrows from powerful administrators. Ultimately his vision of preventative healthcare and the concept of a “medical home” prevailed, and The Harbor-UCLA Family Health Center is thriving. As an avid amateur Dr. Matthies witnessed two full solar eclipses, an appearance of Halley’s Comet, and a transit of Venus. He hit a hole in one. He saw the Berlin Wall rise and fall, and later became good friends with a fellow astronomy buff from former East Germany. He met his biological uncle and aunt and some of his great grandchildren. He knew great joy and success, and terrible sorrow and adversity. Through it all he kept his bawdy sense of humor, and his optimism about the power of science to save our planet. What a lucky man. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, his brother, three sons and two daughters, nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

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Earth specializes in soil transformation, an environmentally-friendly alternative to burial and cremation. Over a 45-day process, we gently transform a body into nutrient-rich soil. We then send this soil to our local conservation land where it’s used for restoration projects such as reforestation and nourishing challenged ecosystems.

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