George E. Matthews, Sr. passed into heaven on March 1, 2021 surrounded by his three sons and loving wife, Louise Rivers Matthews. George was born to William Ross and Lillie Pickett Matthews on July 17, 1928 near Effingham, SC. He lived a rich, full life focused on family, experiencing new adventures, and learning the latest technology. George's career revolved around the retail business. He worked for Belk Department Stores for a number of years, including more than twenty-five years as manager of Belk’s in Wadesboro, NC. In 1973, he decided to leave his role as manager of Wadesboro Belk and took the bold step of opening his own clothing store, By George. He loved serving his customers, outfitting them in the latest “By George creation” and formed many bonds of friendship along the way. Whether it was helping a high schooler find the perfect tux for their prom or working with the groomsmen of a wedding, he wanted to make sure that the customer looked and felt their best in order to have a memorable experience. Additionally, he was the Western Union agent for Wadesboro. This allowed families, friends, and businesses to send messages and money orders throughout the country in a matter of minutes before the age of email and Venmo. He was most certainly a “self-made man” who earned success in all aspects of his life through dedication, hard work, compassion, intelligence and his legendary sense of humor.
Always an enthusiastic promoter of downtown Wadesboro, he was President of the local chapter of the Civitans, and he was an active member of a group to promote the development and businesses of Downtown Wadesboro. Moreover, George was awarded the title of “Lamplighter” for his attention to assuring lights on the Christmas trees were turned on when they should be.
While his children were young, their favorite vacation was water skiing at Lake Waccamaw. Pop spent countless hours in the boat with his father-in-law going round and round the lake towing the three sons behind. All the “boatsman” asked for was a lunch break before heading back out for more skiing. But the sons usually prevailed and pestered them into getting back onto the lake lickety split!
George will always be remembered for his huge sense of humor and never-ending teasing with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His selflessness and devotion to his family were amazing, especially to his wife of 72 years. Theirs was a relationship for the ages. They cared for each other deeply and were partners in all ways. One particularly sweet way of being partners was on their many travels, with Pop serving as pilot and Mom serving as his co-pilot and navigator. And incredibly, their love grew deeper and deeper over the many years of their marriage.
George’s work ethic was remarkable and, yet, he never once complained. He took that work ethic and with equal zeal focused his energies on traveling the country with Louise in their RV. He loved taking their grandchildren on adventures, including camping at various parks. Pop would do anything for them and their families. Even when not feeling his best, he never failed to ask each “grandchild-in-law” about their work and their lives.
His faith was an important part of his life, and he served as a steward of his church and a lay speaker. His faith was epitomized by his gratitude. George knew that he was blessed each and every day and that his life was made richer through his encounters with those around him.
George was always a “techie” at heart, beginning with his service in the Signal Corps of the South Carolina National Guard. He was very active in ham radio, even having extended “QSO” conversations with fellow hams King Hussein of Jordan and Senator Barry Goldwater who was a presidential candidate at the time. Even before the internet was opened to the public, he built a Wadesboro relay node of a network that provided internet-like function nationwide by radio communication. He and Louise were also avid geocachers. He deployed an array of caches around Wadesboro and Anson County that led visiting geocachers on an effective tour of the town and surrounding communities, simultaneously perplexing and delighting those searching for his hidden treasures.
In recent years, the favorite activity of George and his wife was “rambling,” i.e., going on hours-long drives on country roads with no particular destination in mind. Guided only by their sense of adventure and perhaps the prettiest cloud in the sky, their journeys found rustic covered bridges, beautiful vistas overlooking the hills and valleys nearby, or perhaps the perfect picnic site beside a peaceful stream. We often teased them that GPS to them meant “God Positioning System”, but we were also grateful with the invention of the “technical” GPS so they could find their way back home from their sojourn. Mom and Pop set a high-bar for embracing technology, even into their 90’s!
George is survived by his wife, Louise Rivers Matthews; their three sons and their families: Rick and his wife Carolyn of Winston-Salem, their children Mark (Florence) and their children, Eleanor and James; Kelly Matthews Silliman (Shawn) and their children, Wyatt and McKinley; Michael Matthews of Richmond, VA and his daughters Molly Matthews-Ewald (Chris) and their daughter, Jocelyn; and Aline Matthews of Portland, OR; Kip Matthews and his wife Kim of Athens, GA, their children Patrick and Schuyler. He was preceded in death by his parents William Ross and Lillie Pickett Matthews. He was the last surviving sibling.
A private graveside service will be held at the cemetery of Mt. Croghan Methodist Church.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Mt. Croghan United Methodist Church, c/o Dell Chapman, P.O. Box 26, Mt. Croghan, SC 29727 or to First United Methodist Church, 118 East Morgan Street, Wadesboro, NC 28170.