Introduction to Gary Mathews (1944)

Pronouns (he,she) and titles (Dad, Grandpa, etc.) don’t work here because they are ambigous and different generations will read this.


Who we are writing about

Why we are writing

Who written by


Gary Alton Mathews was born March 15, 1944 in Ogden, Weber, Utah. His father, Thomas Alton Mathews, was at basic training, so his mother, Vanese Barker, and sister Ilene went back to Utah to stay with grandparents until he received his orders. At some point they moved to New York near the Finger Lakes and the name Geneva and Sampson Naval Base come to mind. There are pictures of his parents, Gary, and Ilene looking about 1 and 3. Gary’s mother said he learned to walk on the train. Now whether that was going to New York or leaving New York when Dad recieved orders for the South Pacific. The family went back to Utah and stayed with both sets of grandparents. (Which Grandmother Mathews is this? Who is speaking?) Grandmother Mathws told me that when we stayed there I cried and cried when they put me to bed until they realized that back home I had a street light outside my window and the dark scared me. I have no memories of any of this period.

The family stayed with Gary’s Uncle Owen Barker. He tells a story about Gary’s mother who went to the library every week and took home a box of books. He couldn’t believe anyone could read that fast because next week she would take them back and get more books. She didn’t really read all the books though because if she didn’t like the book she would read the beginning chapters and then the end.

Parents and Grandparents

Gary’s parents were Thomas Alton Mathews and Vanese Barker. His father was called Alton by his family and his wife and Thomas by people in Washington D.C. Gary’s grandparents are Frederick Barker and Della Ann Hickenlooper. Della did not like her middle name of Ann. She probably was named for her grandmother Ann Ham Hickenlooper. Della did not give her daughters middle names. Vanese and her sister Myra Barker Parson carried on the tradition so their daughters would keep their maiden name upon marriage.

What there jobs where

Thomas Alton had a degree in hydrolic engineers from Utah Agriculture College now Utah State. Vanese had a degree in business. She did at least some work in offices. When she graduated from high school it was in the depression and there was no money so she went back to high school for another year and took more classes. I (Ilene) think then she worked in an office. She could type very fast. She did teach one semester or so in Idaho waiting to get married, but she wasn’t very happy. I think she did a lot of typing but I don’t know to much more. Thomas Alton came back here and when he got enough leave after graduating in 1940 he came back to Utah and married mom and they came to DC. Dad enlisted in the Navy because I am sure he thought he would be drafted and had his choice. He was a liutentent (spelling) junior grade. When he was finished with the navy they came back to D.C. At the end he worked for Beach Erosion Board and then later I know he was over in Virgina.


Gary was born in Ogden at the hospital there because his Dad was in the Navy in basic training. Vanese and Ilene were staying with the Barker grandparents.

This paragraph makes no sense. Dad wanted a junior but he wasn’t there and mom didn’t so she named him Thomas which was his grandfather Mathews name and was in the pedigree farther back. She called him Alton as did his family and she gave Gary that as a middle name.

Visit to New York to visit Grandpa We went back there and lived.

During WWII, the family stayed with both sets of grandparents while Thomas Alton was in the Navy. After WWII, the family moved back to Washington D.C.

In December 1946, the family made their last move to 403 Quackenbos St., N.E.

Washington, D. C. 20011. This is the home Gary would grow up in. The house is a three house row house and the family lived in the middle. When they moved in, was woods at next door. Ilene remembers when they build the big brick house with the brick wall all around. The families home had a living room, dining room and kitchen on the first floor with the stairs going upstairs in the middle. Upstairs there was a bigger bedroom in the front to the left and then to the right was a closet and then a bathroom and then a smaller bedroom. Downstairs was unfinished when they moved in and Thomas Alton built a bedroom at some point and a storage room. At first it was a playroom for Gary and Ilene with a stage but eventually it became a bedroom. On the other side was a coal room. The coal would come down in a chute that would go through the open window into the coal room. The big coal truck would back down the yard to put the coal in the house. They were the last people in the neighborhood to change from a coal furnace to a gas furnace. Every week we had to put out the ashes in an ash can-a metal trash can for the ask man to pick up. When they finally changed to a gas furnace Thomas Alton converted it into a bedroom sometime when Ilene was in high school (late 50?s or early 60?s) and she had a buffet with the legs cut off under neath the mattress and he made a little closet. At the end of the kitchen was a door that went outside to the back yard. In the basement there was another door that went outside with steps going up to ground level. Gary slept downstairs in the room that had been the playroom. Ilene remembers playing on the stage and playing in the room a lot. They played Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip etc. In the other part of the basement was a washer with a laundry sink. They did not have a dryer most of Gary’s growing up. There was a clothes line like the big umbrella type with rows and rows of lines. They hung clothes out all the time and even hung them on the fence once a neighbor had a fence. Vanese also put lines in the basement that were used. People did not have as many clothes back then, but there was still a lot. In the storage room Thomas Alton made shelves and it used to have canned fruits and vegetables on the shelves. There was some room for storage. There was also the electric box which was always being used because of blowing fuses. Using the toaster and something else always blew fuses. The back door of the basement has to be watched because leaves would get in the drain and cause water to back up and water would come under the door.

We went to Keene Elementary School and I went one year to Barnard when they were adding on the new addition so Gary would have only gone to that school on Riggs Road just up from what is now Ft. Totten. I know Gary started maybe two years later but someone got moved up or maybe he started in the middle of the year so eventually he was only one grade behind. (Try to ask your dad about this. IMS.) I remember going to register for kindergarten and we didn’t have a car. Mother had a baby carriage she pushed Ruth in and Gary and I walked. It was such a trial because it was a good mile or longer she found a neighbor we walked with after that. I remember in sixth grade coming home for lunch and by the time I got home it was time to go back. (Ask your dad about this too. IMS) The school was a regular DC school because most of them looked a like. They were two floors and the lower grades were on the bottom and the upper grades on the second floor. Gary probably participated in drill where we went out in the hall and put our heads and legs down since I was in third grade when we did that. We bought savings stamps for 10 cent a piece and put them in a little book so he probably did that too. I do have a few memories of going to a neighborhood store which was the opporite way from home and buying some candy. We did not have a car so went to church on the bus and even went to Primary on the bus. We could either taker 2–3 buses depending on how we wanted to go. We didn’t get a car until 1950 so we took the bus for quite a few years. Mother had a little red wagon that she would walk to the store which was a couple blocks from the school on the corner of North Capital and Riggs Road to buy groceries. When Ruth was born and didn’t walk until she was 4, this must have been a challenge. Primary was on Saturday not after school at that time. We went to church on 22nd and Franklin NE. Since I rode the city bus to school when I was in fifth grade I guess we could do it to go to Primary.

Our dad didn’t believe that animals belonged in the house so he wouldn’t let us have cats or dogs. He was raised on a farm where there were animals but they stayed outside. Also with as little of a house we had where we have put one. We were allowed to have fish in a little fish bowl.

Mother would always take us downtown on every vacation so we visited most of the memorials and buildings. I remember thinking when talking to people at school how surprised I was that they didn’t know about anything or never went downtown. We went on three big trips that Iremember to Utah or Utah and California. We also went to the Pageant and Niagara Falls.. One summer we rented a cottage near a river and stayed there for a week or a few days. There is a picture and I look like a teenager. We had to walk down to the beach but it was more like a river with a little shore. ( If you want more sometime about this then quiz me.)

I remember my own baptism at the Washington Chapel on 16th St. but I don’t remember Gary’s.

We went to church on the bus and Primary also. We either had to take two bueses or three depending on where we caught them. Gary and I thought we were pretty big stuff to go to Primary by ourself. Later when we got a car we were driven. We went to the firehouse church on 22nd and Franklin. It had been an old horse drawn firestation and was converted into a church. We moved out when I was about 14. I have just a memory or two before going to the Dodge Hotel and helping to clean out the Garden Room so we could have church. When we lived on K St. Mother took us across the big busy street to go to a Bible School for the summer. After one day we never went again because she didn’t like what they were teaching.

We got a TV when I was about 8 or so and we were allowed to stay up on Tuesday night to see Uncle Milton Berle. I remember Howdy Doodie and Clarabelle. After I was 12 I would stay home watching the Lone Ranger and ironing my clothes while they went to Primary.

Any other Stories

Any illnesses

Cub Scouts

Mother tried to teach us piano but we weren’t very good learners and would whine a lot and she would get discouraged. I got into the 3rd grade book. I don’t know how far Gary got.

We would go outside and basketball. We played cherries and horses and 21. We were very happy if Dad or Mom would come and play with us. We also played kickball in the attic and the goal was not to let it go into someone elses’s yard so there was just a narrow place you could hit. We also played baseball in the neighbor’s yard going down the hill. I got hit by the bat so after that I didn’t really like baseball. One Christmas we got tennis rackets and it was very mild and mom took us to play tennis at Sligo Creek. We also took a few lessons at the swimming pool by Coolidge but had to walk and sometimes we would play tennis there or hit the ball against the wall. It was a long walk over there in the summer so we didn’t do it too often. I did learn somehow to do a little swimming. I dont know what Gary’s ability was. I couldn’t see without my glasses so always felt very blind.

What he dreamed of being when he grew up.


Middle School/High School

Size of High School

Favorite Teachers

Favorite Subjects

Best Friend


Girl Friends


YM/Boy Scouts – Camp, Merit badges

Building the Church Building



Musical activity

Senior Prom

Church callings

Family Vacations

Living in a house with nine kids


What type of clothing was worn

Getting Driver’s license


Continuing Education

Ricks (Aunt Ilene)

Living with the Parsons (Aunt Ilene)

Broken Leg, Grayhound (Aunt Ilene)

Job (Aunt Ilene)

BYU (Uncle Tom)

Switching Majors (Uncle Tom)

Roommates (Uncle Tom)

Friends (Uncle Tom)

Favorite Teachers (Uncle Tom)

Getting into Graduate School (Mom)

Masters (Mom)



What lead him to want to go on a mission

Who set him apart

When served

Where served

Who his mission president was

Serving in the office

What Argentina was like at the time

What the church was like in Argentina at the time

Love and Marriage

Meeting Mom (Nathan, Libbey)

What attracted Mom to Dad

Taking her and her roommate out on a date

Kissing Mom

Returning to the separate parts of the country

Being instructed to ask to marry

Asking to marry

FHE over the phone

Mom going to Washington DC

Getting Married

Honeymoon to Victoria

First home in Alaska

Trailer in Utah


What Dad thought about having his first child (Mom)

Green House (Ben, Nathan) Gary and Sharon interviewed a number of places around the Western United States and accepted a job with Lincoln County School District site unseen. They packed up and drove with Ben and Nathan to Newport, OR in August of 1975. After living in a cheap hotel for a week, they found a two bedroom home on the corner of NW A and 6th street in Toledo, OR. The house is affectionatly known in family stories as the green house due to its distinctive paint color. Gary lived there with his family until Libbey was born April 7, 1979. At that point, a two bedroom house was to small for five people.

Garden -


Story Hour

Swimming Lessons

Family at the top of the hill (Members)

Mary Whale Babysitting – Libbey’s birth

Driving the Car (Ben and Nathan)

Mount Saint Helen’s eruption

The holly tree in the front yard

Playing hide n seek in the front hedge

Ben catching the bus at the bus stop down the street

Firefighter’s sticker on Ben and Nathan’s room

Getting new rubber boots (Ben and Nathan)

Getting a kids shovel and rake

Picking blackberries along the fence next to the Library

The bakery/other businesses next door

Watching the new sewer line being put in down A Street

Watching the fire department check the fire hydrant on the corner

Ben being in the library parade with his crazy hat and big glasses

Going to the park

Watching the building across the street getting torn down, where the credit union is now.

House on 2nd street (Ben, Nathan, Libbey, Joel, Kyle, Beth, Mom)

(JAM) Mom and Dad first moved into this house two months before I was born on December 26, 1980, the day after Christmas. Before they moved into the house, a drunk driver had run into the basement wall with his car. One of the first things that had to be done after moving in was to get the foundation repaired. I remember being told about how the cement truck came in with one of those big tubes that could lay cement all around the houses foundation. As this house was an older one, built in the 1930s there were many different projects that had to be done and Dad loved them. Some of the ones I remember were clearing the backyard of blackberries, pruning trees, putting a new water line into the house, painting, resealing the front of the house, leveling the backyard so we could get a tapeline, building a new front and back deck, rewiring the attic and cleaning every nick and cranny. Dad loved these projects, it seemed to bring new energy to him, and he loved to be out working on his house. One of the other highlights of this house happened on May 15, 1990. I remember that Libbey and I were coming home from elementary school and there were hoses running down the street and there was a big fan in the front door. Dad also was already home, we did not know what was going on. Luckily we were soon filled in and found out that our laundry room had started on fire after some wiring in the garage, which was there to kept the pipes from freezing, had shorted out and started the wood on fire. After the fire there was much work that needed to be down. Dad along with many members of the ward went right to work to first tear down the burnt part and real build it, but you could always tell he loved it. During this time we also cannot forget the yellow Service Master vans. This company was hired to clean our house; I think we still have some of the chemicals in the basement. Because of this fire our house took on a much different look. The kitchen got all new white cabinets and tile floors and the laundry room was combined with the kitchen nook. It was defiantly a big difference but one that we all loved. Who his children are

When they were born and what happened around there birth (Mom)

Did he have insurance or how did they pay for them (Mom)

Blessings for having children (Mom)

Employment and Leisure

Teaching in Alaska (Mom)

Construction in Utah (Mom)

Teaching in Eddyville (teacher, Ben)

Teaching in Siletz (teachers, Nathan, Libbey, Joel)

(JAM) Dad first moved to teaching in Siletz in 198 . This was a place that he loved to work. Dad worked in a classroom that was separate from the main building, in room 66. This room had lockers on the right as you walked in and a sink in the back corner. There were also other things that gave it character, such as the blackboards that stretched almost all the way around the room or the old heater that sat along the windows. Because of the character Dad could arrange his classroom in many different manners and it was always a highlight at the beginning of the year when Mom and him would go to Siletz and decided how to arrange the room and what to put up on the bulletin boards. This was a place that Dad loved. Dad loved to read and wanted his students to love that also. He had a big library; he also was the teacher that put on the children’s book sale every year. There were also many other things that I remember Dad taking part in. He loved taking his students on field trips. I remember he took them to Tillamook several times, to see the cheese factory and the airplane museum. He also took his students to the water park in Springfield. He loved to help his students see what good there was in the world, not just what was bad in their home. Dad also loved the spring festival were there would be the bing bag toss, the cake walk, go fish and many other games. Dad loved these festivals. Dad also loved seeing his students later and to see how they had grown.

SMILE (Mr. Mooney)

National Reading Association (Nathan)

Teaching in Taft (Beth, Kyle)

I once asked Dad, how did he keep going on teaching. He was teaching the same things over and over. He said to me that although that was true, each student was different and each student had to be taught differently. He kept going because he had to learn how to teach each student.

Dad loved teaching, it did not matter what it was, he loved teaching school, especially reading. He also loved teaching in church and his children. Dad was a teacher; he loved to see the joy that was brought into others by his teaching.

Reading (Kyle)

Working in the Yard (Ben, Joel)

(JAM) Dad loved working in the yard and taught his children to do so also. Every Saturday when it was not raining Dad was out in the yard making things look good. He loved to fill in spots in the grass, dig up weeds, clip back the trees and blackberries, or simply work in the garden. Dad also loved working on the house, he loved cleaning the house or painting it to make it look beautiful.

Working with hands (Ben, Joel)

(JAM) If it was raining out side on Saturday he would be working inside with his hands where ever it was needed. Dad loved to fix things, or clean things. We as his children would receive a list of jobs ever Saturday morning, but he would be working there along with us. Cleaning out the fridge or under the sink, putting away papers, whatever needed to be done.

Teaching children to work (Ben, Nathan, Libbey)

Supporting the sporting teams (Nathan)

How parents dieing affected him (Mom)

Friends (Mom)

Family vacations (Libbey, Beth)

Feelings about family (Mom)

Church Service

Callings in Alaska (Mom)

Callings in Utah (Mom)

Bishopric/Bishop (Ben, Counselors)

Ward Mission Leader (Mom)

Home Teacher (Those he home taught)

Spiritual Experience we should remember (Dad, Mom)

Community Service

Being drafted into the military (Aunt Illene)

Volunteering at church (Nathan)

Beach cleanups (Nathan, Joel)

(JAM) Dad not only loved working around our house he loved helping anyone that needed it, this including keeping cleaning up the environment. I will always remember how he taught us when we would go camping he would tell us that we needed to leave the camp site cleaner then we found it. This desire translated into all other things. In Oregon ever year they would have a beach clean up and Dad loved taking us kids to clean up the beach. From this Nathan and Ben came up with a little song “Cigar, cigarette butt” (this is the majority of what we found) and would sing it over and over as the picked up trash. But it was fun being on the beach and taking our part in keeping Oregon beautiful. Voting (Mom)


Feelings about Ben getting married (Ben, Sonia)

Feelings about having first child (Mom)

What he likes to do as a grandfather (Ben and Sonia)

How is it different then being a father (Mom)


What is it (Dad)

How did you gain it

Faith promoting experiences

Special blessings you have received

Favorite scriptures, quotes, songs


Birth Certificate

Baptism Certificate

Priesthood Certificates

Graduation Announcements

Wedding Announcements

Other important documents