Don Matthews


A Tribute by Eric

We were very close in age and grew up doing similar things and had similar interests. After he went into the Marine Corps and I went college there is a slight gap, but then were together again when we were both apprentice linemen in the late 70's. I shared a lot of time and worries with him and yet had our own personalities. I had the advantage. I learned from his life lessons.  I still am.


Boy Scouts

We weren't so much into getting awards and merit badges. We wanted foremost to have fun on camping trips and other excursions. Many things we did on camping trips I am sure were not in the Boy Scout handbook. 



Sports! From an early age we were introduced to sports not team sports mind you. Individual sports were the key. Mom and dad did a lot of fun things that would catch our interest before we even knew it. Dad was our model in getting into different interests: snow skiing, skin diving, motocross, sailing and even golf! Don and I would later add sky diving to our resume.



 Don was introduced to competition spearfishing at an early age. The club had a minimum age of 12. Dad had already been competition diving for 4 years. Don had a good introduction into the sport and although he did not continue the competition aspect, he and I would enjoy spearfishing up until our late 20's.


Dirt Bikes!

Don was heavy into Jr. High football and into his first years of racing bikes. When he went to high school he wanted to continue playing. His coach told him it was either he chooses football or motorcycles. He chose motorcycles. Dad got his start on a 1969 CZ Side pipe. Don's first bike was a Yamaha 125 AT-1. In the yearly ears Don and dad went through many bikes. Don started with his Yamaha, then Sachs and finally to a Yellow Tank 250 CZ, which he would race for many years, even when he joined the Marine Corps and raced in 29 Palms and oversees in Okinawa. He was caught at Inspection in the Corps one time with a stripped down CZ in his Foot Locker.



I had the pleasure of being with Don for two of his work years as an apprentice lineman. We followed each other around the Northwest quite a bit. We were never on the same crew but sometimes we were on the same job! The stories I could tell on our off work hours together! Spent a lot  of  time together on a job in the Central Oregon region building  steel transmission  towers.  He was on the wire crew and I was on the onstruction crew. I set them up and he wired them. We were quite young and had a lot of energy!I



In 2002 I was invited to Africa by Dr. Jane Goodall. On my third trip in 2006 I asked Don to come with me. It was a natural thing for him to be there¦..he didn't go for all the things I did like hiking for hours to see chimps he was just as happy to fish off the dock all by himself. He also took great delight in teaching our guide to fish with a pole. 

He had just as much fun being alone or with the guides and other researchers at the camp. He would share his laugh with them.

My 4th trip to Africa we went together with Sue (his wife). On this trip we arrived before Dr. Goodall to camp. When she arrived she invited us in for a night cap. Don, Sue and I had a delightful time with Jane and the Researchers that night.


Home on Two Continents

When Dr. Goodall heard Don was sick (around Christmas) she put a lit candle in a window at her home in Southern Britain.

When Don passed she put a memorial to him under the Mango Tree at Gombe National Park in Tanzania. It rests there to this day.

written by  Eric Matthews