Laurance Oldham Mathews
Laurance (Larry) Oldham Mathews III was born in Columbus, Georgia, to Laurance Oldham Mathews Jr. and Anne Bratton Mathews on April 7, 1934. Larry and his brother, John Bratton Mathews, who preceded him in death in 2012, spent their childhood following their father’s naval career through the WWII era, living across the United States and abroad.
While his father served as attaché to Finland, Larry found his passion for sales by reselling silk stockings from the PX to locals. He also learned to sail there, which became a lifelong hobby. The travels of his childhood meant that Larry went to 35 schools before finishing high school in Columbus, Ohio, at Bexley, but he always called Pleasure Hill (aka “the Hill”) in Hunt, Texas home. After high school, Larry was offered a four-year scholarship at Northwestern University Art Institute of Chicago, but instead chose to join the Navy, where he served as a navigator on the USS Hornet during the Korean War.
Following his tour, he returned to the U.S. for college and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. As a graduation gift, Larry’s father bought him a one-way bus ticket to San Francisco. With $50 in his pocket and his natural sales ability, Larry sold sandwiches on the bus and had doubled his money by the time he arrived. After various sales jobs, including selling his paintings on the street and sales at Koret California, he then found his career in San Francisco commercial real estate where he worked happily for 65 years — first for Ritchie and Ritchie and later for himself as Larry Mathews Industrial Properties.
He met his wife Jeanette (Jan) Olive Mathews while skiing at Squaw Valley, where he was on volunteer Ski Patrol. He said it was during a blizzard and he saved her life; she said it was just snowing and a little windy. They had their daughter, Jennifer (Jenny) Anne Mathews in 1969. Larry loved his home in Belvedere, where he lived with Jan from 1971 until he passed. He was a member of the Hillside Church of Marin. Larry was also a life member at the Corinthian Yacht Club. He was a fixture at neighborhood block parties, at the Belvedere Sailing Society, and beyond for his Texas BBQ and cook wagon. Larry owned a vintage Belvedere fire engine and drove it annually in the Labor Day Belvedere-Tiburon parade. He hunted and fished in Mexico and the Yukon, flew planes, owned both sailing and motor boats, and collected antique cars, but his pride and joy was his ranchette, where he raised chickens and horses and kept a donkey named Sassafras.
Larry was always ready and willing to assist others — he was a Level II EMT with the Belvedere Volunteer Fire Department. He ran toy drives at Christmas time that donated over 40,000 toys to Toys for Tots. He was one of the last remaining members of the San Francisco Press Club until it ended and facilitated transferring important historical documents and artifacts to the University Club and to the City Club. He was generous to charities including the Semper Fi Fund, Students Rising Above, and San Francisco’s Glide Memorial Church. His donations to Glide were annual and always anonymous where he would be dressed as Santa Claus, driving his fire truck laden with turkeys for Thanksgiving and wrapped gifts for Christmas.
No one enjoyed their life more than Larry. He loved life and lived it to the fullest, encouraging others to do the same. He leaves behind his wife, daughter, son-in-law George Nolan, and beloved grandson Benjamin (Ben) Mathews Nolan. Celebrations of life will happen in Tiburon, California, on April 22nd and at “the Hill” in Hunt, Texas on July 2, 2023. Donations in his memory can be sent to the nonprofit Students Rising Above, based in San Francisco.