Lawrence Matthews, Jr. Obituary

Lawrence W. Matthews, Jr.
Lawrence Matthews
Lawrence W. Matthews, Jr.

August 31, 1921 - January 28, 2010
Born in Middleton Springs, VT
Resided in Des Moines, IA
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Lawrence William "Larry" Matthews, Jr., 88, died Thursday, January 28th, 2010 at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines. Memorial services will be held at 1:00 PM, Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at Plymouth Congregational Church. Burial will be in the Plymouth Memorial Garden at a later date.

Larry was born on August 31st, 1921, to Lawrence and Ethel Matthews in Middleton Springs, Vermont. He spent his childhood in Rutland, Vermont, leaving in 1939 to attend Drake University on academic and athletic scholarships. The United States declaration of war interrupted his studies; Larry proudly served four years during World War II as a Naval Flight Officer, returning in 1947 to Drake to complete a degree in Finance.

Larry married his lifelong partner, Ruth Virginia Evans of Des Moines, on October 7th, 1945. In 1947, he joined Witmer-Kaufman-Evans, widely recognized as Iowa's oldest independent insurance firm. Larry continued his education during employment, becoming a charter member of the Iowa Chapter of Charter Property Casualty Underwriters (CPCU) and soon its third president. Devoted to lifelong learning, Larry taught part-time at Drake and earned a degree in Risk Management in 1968. He was one of the first agents in Iowa to hold both CPCU and ARM status. He became president and major owner of Witmer-Kaufman-Evans, eventually selling the firm to Kirk Van Orsdel in 1982. He remained a valued consultant at KVI until his retirement in 1987.

Larry dedicated himself to serving on many community service projects, including the Drake Relays Committee, D-Club, United Way of Central Iowa, Visiting Nurse Services, Moingona Girl Scouts Council, YMCA, Camp Fire Girls, and Wesley Acres Retirement Services. For 37 years, he volunteered as a Drake Relays official, acting 15 years as Chief Clerk of the Course. He was a member of the Des Moines Rotary Club for over 50 years, where he served a term as president and was elected a Paul Harris Fellow. A devoted member of Plymouth Congregational Church since 1942, Larry was past president of the Men's Fellowship, a member of the Board of Deacons, chair of the Board of Trustees, and a member of the boards of Christian Stewardship and Benevolences. On the board of Plymouth Place, Larry worked to provide affordable housing for the elderly.

An avid golfer and tennis player, Larry enjoyed lifelong memberships at both the Des Moines Club and the Wakonda Club. He also loved traveling to Colorado yearly with his children and grandchildren to visit family and to ski. A natural athlete, he skied well into his seventies and golfed into his eighties. His greatest joy by far was spending time with his family.

After retirement, Larry remained active. He audited 39 hours of courses at Drake University, more hours than are required for a Master's Degree. In 2009, Larry was elected to the Iowa Insurance Hall of Fame and was the recipient of the Iowa CPCU Burkhalter Award.

Larry was preceded in death by Ruth, his wife of 58 years; Norman and William R. Matthews, his brothers; and Dan Weddle, his grandson-in-law. He is survived by sons, Lawrence William "Lorn" (Dorothy) Matthews, III, of Des Moines and Bob (Jodi) Matthews of Rockford, IL; sister Bonnie Bryant of Needham, MA; three grandchildren, Carol "CJ", Darren (Molly), and Jeff (Kathleen); great-grandson Eli; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be held on Tuesday, February 2, 2010 from 4 to 7 PM at Iles Funeral Homes – Westover Chapel. Memorials may be made to Wesley Acres Good Samaritan Fund or Plymouth Congregational Church.


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Westover Funeral Home
6337 Hickman Road
Des Moines, IA US 50322
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
4:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Plymouth Congregational Church
4126 Ingersoll Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
1:00 PM


Wesley Acres Good Samaritan Fund
3520 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA US 50312