A Tribute to Don Matthews I 1947-2016
A Tribute to Don Matthews I 1947-2016STURTEVANT, WIS. (July 15, 2016) – On June 29, a valued friend of the concrete placing industry, Don Matthews, 69, passed away in Emory, Texas on his small family farm. Don battled cancer with strength and courage for about two years; and during that time, he encouraged others to call whenever they needed assistance, even when he was in the hospital. Words can't properly express the love, passion and dedication he had for our industry and the people in it.
Don's experience in placing concrete spans 44 years—as an operator, mechanic, owner, fleet manager and factory representative. However, many in our industry knew him as a pioneer, mentor, and more importantly, a friend.
During the past two decades, he was employed by Putzmeister where he was instrumental in the development and success of the Telebelt® telescopic belt conveyor line. He knew every trick of the trade related to the operation, service and maintenance of these units. In his role as technical services manager, he traveled nationally as well as internationally, handling the startup of new units while also training countless operators. He was admired for his expertise, quick wit and willingness to share his knowledge to help others. And, without hesitation, he always made time to help someone out, whether a work-related or even personal situation.
Don took on the life of the Putzmeister Santa Claus, with his image as the jolly fellow on the company's holiday cards for 12 years. Although similar in appearance to Santa, Don also embodied the nature of Santa with his hearty laugh, giving nature and warm personality that made him loved by all.
Don's career was highlighted in the Spring 2015 issue of Concrete Pumping when he was recognized with the ACPA Pioneer Award. He humbly accepted this prestigious honor at the World of Concrete, a show that he had helped set up the Putzmeister booth for 17 years, earning him the affectionate title as "show dog".
On news of his death, social media was filled with heartfelt comments. One sums it up best, "Don once told me it wasn't about the job, the amazing places he visited, or even the awesome equipment he loved working with. He said it was about the PEOPLE and RELATIONSHIPS."
Don's passing leaves a huge void in our industry. Fortunately, his wisdom and ideas will live on in all those he encountered, as you couldn't help but learn something if you were around him.
Don leaves behind his wife Chris, a combined family of three sons, one daughter, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Don is preceded in death by his brother Dean who had the same dedication to our industry.