John (Jack) Matthews, 94, A Member of the Greatest Generation, died April 30, 2018 at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke. Jack had lived in Hampden for many years prior to his going to the Soldiers’ Home.
Jack was born in Springfield, MA on January 11, 1924 to the late John and Helen (Murphy) Matthews. He graduated from Classical High School in1942. After high school, he enlisted in the United States Army and was a proud member of the Company M, 387th Infantry Regiment. He was stationed in Europe during World War II and was on his way to Japan during the dropping of the atom bomb.
Jack served honorably in the United States Army during WWII attaining the rank of Private First Class. He was awarded the Victory Medal, Good Conduct Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Ribbon.
After his honorable discharge from the service, he returned to Springfield and worked for Witkin Provisions for many years. In 1951 he married Florence Lionarkis. They started their life together living in Springfield. He was married for 59 years to Florence until her passing in 2010. Jack started his career in the food industry as a worker in the Mallory’s milk plant. When H.P. Hood & Sons bought Mallory’s he quickly moved into sales. Jack truly enjoyed sales, as he loved being around people. After retiring from H.P. Hood & Sons, he worked part-time for Kraft foods. Jack demonstrated, through his work experiences, the belief that one needed to work, be accountable and provide for one’s family. He was a great role model to his three children.
In 1966 Jack moved his family from Springfield into a new home in Hampden. He was very involved in the town government, serving on the Advisory Committee and Conservation Commission. He also took pride in being a long-time parishioner of St. Mary’s Church, where he served as a lectern and Eucharistic minister. Jack also enjoyed going to the Hampden Senior Center to see friends and play trivia. He lived in Hampden until 2011, and then moved to Bluebird Estates.
Jack’s family was the center of his life. He provided a wonderful life for his family. His greatest pride was his children. Jack valued education and was very proud of the fact that all three of his children went to and successfully graduated from college. In his later years, much of his time was spent watching his grandson, Justin, play sports and attending his many school functions. He took great pride in the fact that both he and Florence were able to attend Justin’s graduation from Hamilton College.
Jack loved dogs, and enjoyed having his dog, his son’s dog and his daughter’s dogs in his house all the time. He also enjoyed fishing, hunting and in later years golfing with Florence and his sister Bev and her husband Joe. He took great pride in his lawn and was always seeding, fertilizing, watering and mowing, to ensure it remained a bright green color!
Jack is survived by his children; a daughter, Ellen A. Parker and her husband Robert of North Andover; a son, John L. Matthews III of Hampden and daughter Diane M. Matthews of Salem, SC. His beloved grandson, Justin J. Parker and his wife Kathleen and their daughter, Jack’s great-granddaughter, Nora, of South Boston also survive Jack. He also leaves his loving sister, Beverly Feicha of Ludlow and his grand-dog, Mini, of Salem, S.C.
The family would like to acknowledge the staff at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke for their compassion and the care they showed to Jack. They always treated him with dignity and respect. Also, the family would like to thank MaryAnne Catanzaro and the team from Hospice of Western Massachusetts for their guidance during Jack’s final days.
Jack will be greatly missed by his family and many friends.
Arrangements: At Jack’s request there will be no funeral home calling hours. A Mass celebrating his life will be held on Saturday, July 14 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Mary’s Church in Hampden. Family will greet friends in the foyer of the church beginning at 10:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jack’s name to: The Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, 110 Cherry St., Holyoke, MA 01040. Arrangements are under the direction of Wilbraham Funeral Home.