Julia Matthews

Obituary of Julia Matthews

A long and storied chapter in the history of Abilene has come to a close. On November 17, 2016, Julia (Judy) Jones Matthews completed her lifetime of benevolence and blessings in her beloved hometown.

She was born December 13, 1918, the eldest daughter of Percy and Ruth Legett Jones, pioneer Abilenians who were early day leaders in the business, cultural and education endeavors of the community. She is survived by her children, Joe Matthews of Durango, CO, Jill Matthews Wilkinson (Stephen) of Austin, Matt Matthews of San Angelo and Kade Matthews (Chris) of Clarendon; her sister, Edith Jones O'Donnell (Peter) of Dallas; seven grandchildren, William Matthews, Dennis Wilkinson (Melissa), John Matthews (Margaret), Jamie Matthews (Mary Clare), Margaret Matthews Frederick (Jonathan), Watt Matthews (Elizabeth), Meredith Matthews Nicholson (Spencer) and eight great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her son, Watt, and her brother, Dodge. She attended The Madeira School in Virginia (High School) and Smith College in Massachusetts where she received a B.A. in Economics.

Beyond her philanthropy, Judy Matthews was a lady of diverse interests and talents. She had a bleeding heart for rescue animals, whatever breed (mostly mixed) and whatever size (mostly large). Over many of her years, she was seldom without at least one four-legged friend ensconced ever so comfortably in her home. Emblematic of her empathy for down and out animals was her perennial and generous largess to Rescue the Animals and other regional animal shelters.

She also had a practiced eye with an artistic hand for fine painting. Throughout her lifetime, she was an avid patron of the arts as well as an accomplished painter in her own right. She had a discreet appreciation and attraction for Impressionism with oils as a primary medium. She enjoyed many sessions at Evelyn Niblo's Art Studio to mix and mingle colors and conversation with good friends, their brushes and easels. Her paintings were keepsakes, truly the work of skillful strokes and an aesthetic sense. Her art can be found in her office and in the homes of family and friends who cherish these priceless mementos.

Judy's penchant for classic movies was manifest most compellingly in her affection for The Paramount. Indeed, it was her sentiment for the classics that kindled her interest in the rescue and restoration of this historic landmark in 1987. Renovated to majestic splendor, it has become Abilene's premier venue for favorite golden age movies and a potpourri of cultural events.

Classic movies opened a window into her remarkable memory for people, places and things. She enjoyed talking about the legendary Hollywood stars, the plots and stories of motion pictures long ago produced and popular. She didn't miss many details. She was well familiar with the history of Abilene, its early families and their descendants. She had a genealogist's recall of family trees, fondly reminiscing about the characters, their relationships and the antics and fables that made many so colorful.

Judy Matthews forever changed the landscape of Abilene. Over a lifetime of "anonymous" philanthropy, she rendered a tour de force for her hometown, quietly, exquisitely, selflessly. Her gracious spirit and her generous heart worked powerful and positive changes among legions throughout this community and beyond. She was the quintessence of the scriptural verse "It is more blessed to give than to receive." And so it was. May she rest in peace.

A memorial service is scheduled for 1:00 pm, Saturday, November 26, at the Episcopal Church of The Heavenly Rest. Honorary pallbearers include Peter O'Donnell, Tom Perini, Joe Ed Canon, Larry Gill and Mike Wheeler. Arrangements were handled by The Hamil Family Funeral Home, 6449 Buffalo Gap Road, Abilene, Texas.

The family acknowledges special thanks to caregivers: Malisa Burt, Drew Dawkins, Janet Garcia, Donna Hightower, Kim McPherson, Karen O'Neill, Patricia Westpheling and Ritzy Woolf.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest (602 Meander Street, Abilene, TX 79602), West Texas Rehabilitation Center (4601 Hartford Street, Abilene, TX 79605), The Grace Museum (102 Cypress Street, Abilene, TX 79601), Rescue the Animals (4620 N. 1st Street, Abilene, TX 79603) or your favorite charity.