Monday, 12 March 2012

Obituary for Mike

Born in Aklavik June,1937, Mike Matthews died on February 25th, 2012 in Nanaimo, B.C. after a brief confrontation with cancer. His wife, daughter and beloved dog were at his side.
Mike was a vibrant and witty man, a larger-than-life presence, treasured by his friends and family for his irreverent exuberance. Growing up in Vancouver, he went to Magee High School, which he described as a peak period in his life. He celebrated his lengthy undergraduate career at UBC, where he hung out at the Players Club and the Ubyssey. In Montreal, he worked at the McGill Library, attended graduate studies at Sir George Williams University, and played baseball with the York Street Tigers where his nom-de-baseball was Magic Mitt. Back on the West Coast, he began his thirty-three year career teaching English at Malaspina College, now Vancouver Island University, and busied himself with theatrical activities, running (7 marathons), and writing book reviews and articles about food, wine and people.
Mike dearly loved his family, especially his granddaughter Charlotte and his talented dog Victor. He took pleasure in chatting to checkout clerks, bank tellers, shopkeepers, colleagues, passengers on the Protection Island Ferry, and whomever else would respond to his skill-testing questions, word games, rants and puns, encounters which he believed brightened people’s lives. The natural world delighted him, and he was a constant champion of the Protection Island Community Garden. He loved the music of Handel, Mozart, Blind Willie Johnson, and all the Protection Island musicians.  An enthusiastic cook, his specialties were plantain frittatas and Saskatoon berry pies.  He was keen on crossword puzzles, and his extensive collection of pens and reading glasses was renowned.
He detested cruelty to animals, orange safety vests, sentimentality, bragging, car alarms, plastic water bottles, and the use of the word “multiple” rather than “many”, or any long word when a shorter one would do.
Mike is survived by his wife Carol, daughter Alison (Alex Taylor), granddaughter Charlotte, brother Dick (Diane), in-laws Rod Dobell (Marnie), Ken Dobell (Pam), eleven beloved nieces and nephews, and sixteen great-nieces and great-nephews.
Those who share his passionate love of animals may wish to make a donation in his name to the SPCA. In recognition of his love of teaching, donations may be made to the Vancouver Island University Mike Matthews Scholarship Fund. In appreciation of the wonderful care he received in his last few weeks, donations could be made to the Palliative Care Unit at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.  
The family thanks all the staff of the Nanaimo hospital and especially Dr. Kim Waterman, Dr. Robin Love, and the Palliative Care nurses.
A memorial will be held Sunday, April 1st, 2012 at 3:00pm at Bowen Park Auditorium in Nanaimo, B.C.

Our Thanks

We are winding up the blog now with some additional messages and Mike's

There are many more messages of support which haven't made their way to the
blog, simply because we have been overwhelmed by the responses we have
received and we haven't always been sure that people wanted the message
redirected to the blog. If your message doesn't appear here, please know
that it was read and deeply appreciated.

With heartfelt thanks,
Carol, Alison, and family

Message from Annie Dugdale/Correia

Hi Carol and Alison,

Hannah and I had our birthdays on the 25th and awoke the next morning to the sad news. It felt so odd that we had been celebrating as Mike battled his way out of this world. I thought he probably would have made light of it with a clever quip.

We all loved him as children, but being in his class at Malaspina allowed me to know him better as an adult. It warms my heart to remember him saying that he enjoyed having me there. I think it must have looked like I was hanging on his every word, but in truth I sometimes faded off into a fit of fondness for his enthusiasm, his thoughtful looks directed at the ceiling and his boundless positivity. So while he was saying something clever, I was basking in his energy and thinking, "Mike Mathews, I just love you to bits."

I'm so sad and sorry for your loss, and also grateful that he was here and shared his abundant gifts so freely with the world.

Much love,

Condolences from Laureen Styles

Hi Carol,
My heart goes out to you in your loss of beloved Mike, partner, adventurer,
dog lover, educator, father, and the many other strengths/roles/gifts he
brought into the world during his time in this place. I can only appreciate
how difficult the last months have been for you and your family and close
friends and I am only hopeful that his leaving-taking was peaceful.

In the days that pass, I am holding space for you, sending you my positive
energy for the strength you need in these moments. Your wisdom, perspective,
amazing courage, wit, humor and resiliency will all be needed I expect and
extending my faith that your resiliency will increase as live this next
stage with grace.

And I offer whatever I can in support that might be helpful to you Carol.
And I also know that you have a wonderful family and extensive support
system of friends circle you with love, tangible help and care.

Hugs to you virtually, Laureen

Memories from Kim Leduc

I feel so much about Mike having passed away. I have such fond memories and I am glad to say such recent ones. I remember being a bit awed and a little scared of Mike when I was a child. I have a vivid memory of Alison putting her head into her father's massive (at the time it was impressive to a small kid) gut and pushing him around the kitchen floor. This might have been in the house in Harewood but as I recall it was the one near Brechin School on Millstone. I found that being afraid of Mike was not an option after witnessing the way my friend could push him around. He was always eager for conversation. I do not remember spending quiet time in repose with Mike. He was always a force of mental and verbal energy when I was around. Even if he wasn't speaking I could feel him formulating the composition of his next missive (of, as often, his rant).
I will miss his presence in my world but my heart aches for you and Alison and Charlotte and Victor.
Much love to you all,
Kim LeDuc

Steve Lane's Notice to VIU Community

Dear all,

It is my sad duty to notify the VIU community of the loss of one of its
long-time members, Mike Matthews of the English department.

Mike died on Saturday, February 25, after a brief struggle with lung cancer,
having been admitted to Emergency only on February 8. Mike leaves behind his
wife Carol, who has strong connections of her own to Malaspina/VIU having
served as one of our deans, and their daughter Alison, who has also taught
for us a few years ago. Mike was 74.

Mike Matthews joined Malaspina College at the old Kennedy Street campus in
1970, a year after it opened. Over the years until his retirement, Mike
taught hundreds of students their college composition, or Canadian
literature, or both in the Arts One program. This man kept students engaged
the old-fashioned ways: through passion for his subjects, gusto, and not a
little dash of theatricality. Mike would walk into a classroom carrying his
trademark music stand as a portable lectern, and if you walked by that
classroom you would hear Mike in full flight. No technology required; in
fact, Mike's struggles with technology are a legend unto themselves.

In those early days of the College, Mike helped to develop the department's
expertise in and connections to Canadian literature and writers, and he
helped develop the community through literary and theatrical productions and
performances. After his retirement, Mike returned to teach a few courses for
the English department, and he also got involved in the ElderCollege

I am sure many of you have a memory of Mike Matthews - I know I have
several. Many are posted on a blog that Carol maintained over the past few
weeks: <>.

Carol and Alison are still in the planning stages of a memorial to Mike,
sometime later in March. Also, I believe there are already discussions to
create a scholarship for students in Mike's memory. I will provide further
details as I receive them.

My thoughts go out to Carol and Alison. This is, indeed, a loss.



Steven M. Lane, Ph.D.
Associate Vice-President:
Academic Planning and Aboriginal Initiatives
Vancouver Island University
Phone: 250-740-6558
900 Fifth Street
Nanaimo, B.C.