Martin L. Mathews

1925 – 2022

Martin Luther Mathews passed away peacefully this week at the age of 97.  He was a pillar in our community who touched people from across our region with his positivity, his optimism and his belief in young people.  

As founder of the Mathews-Dickey Boys’ and Girls’ Club in 1960, Mr. Mathews shaped generations of St. Louisans, including me. He was my mentor and cheerleader since I started as a volunteer at Mathews-Dickey in 1989, almost 35 years ago.  A few years later when I first talked to him about the idea for City Academy, he had this advice: “Build it as if it is for your own children, and make it the best.” His encouragement and belief made a big scary idea seem possible, and his high expectations formed the backbone of our school. He has been with me and City Academy every step of the way.

Mr. Mathews dedicated his life to serving others, especially children.  His three R’s: “Respect, Restraint and Responsibility” guided him, and his emphasis on the importance of “preparation, opportunity and possibility” shaped his vision for Mathews-Dickey, and mine for City Academy.  When children are prepared and receive equal opportunities, their possibilities are endless, their futures are bright, and we all benefit.  

At City Academy’s graduation each year, we present the Martin L. Mathews Award to a sixth grader who has demonstrated great character and citizenship.  It is a special tradition.  Mr. Mathews was unable to attend last year’s graduation, so I visited with him a few days before and asked for his advice for our graduates. “Always strive for your best.  Don’t waiver from this. And don’t be afraid to make your best better.”  As usual, Mr. Mathews summed it up perfectly and succinctly!  We would all do well to take this advice and strive for excellence for ourselves and encourage that from those around us. Mr. Mathews did that every day, and everyone who knew him benefited from his wisdom, kindness and open-mindedness.  

I will be forever grateful to my mentor and dear friend, Martin Mathews, and I am proud that his legacy lives on through our work at City Academy.

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One comment on “Reflections on Martin Mathews’ Passing, by Don Danforth”

  1. 1
    Nancy Tao on November 15, 2022

    Thank you for sharing words of wisdom from the one-and-only Mr. Mathews. He may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.

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