Lawrence Robert “Bob” Matson passed away peacefully on Saturday, November 2, 2019, at the age of 79.
Bob was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather, as well as a caring educator. He loved the outdoors, whether looking at rocks or the stars, or hunting or fishing, and could give directions for roadways he’d traveled only once, 50 years earlier. Certainly not least, Bob was a passionate Yankees fan with an encyclopedic memory for facts and statistics, rarely missing a game on the radio. Those who met him found him to be a kind, generous man of integrity.
Bob was born in Cortland on February 9, 1940, son of the late Lawrence and Ona (Record) Matson. He relished his childhood experiences living in Ilion and Messengerville, NY. Bob graduated from Homer, class of ’57, earning the Atoms for Peace Award and being a member of the Civil Air Patrol and DeMolay. Following high school, he earned BA and MS degrees at SUNY Cortland, and an MS degree at Case Western Reserve University.
His long career as an educator included teaching at middle and high schools, and a 28-year career as Professor of Earth Sciences and Astronomy at SUNY Ulster and SUNY New Paltz. He was a born educator with a love of science and a commitment to helping students appreciate the wonders of the earth and sky, engaging them in field trips far and wide (often incorporating family vacations), and in astronomical observations. To enrich his teaching, he was a lifelong learner, attending and hosting conferences, researching minerology for the iron-mining industry in Michigan, and conducting Landsat investigations for NASA at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. For many years, he enjoyed sharing his knowledge with guests and employees at Mohonk Mountain House, where he worked part-time for many years.
Service to the community was very important to Bob. He was a member of the Rondout Valley Lion’s Club for more than 25 years, and, as a member of Accord Fire Department, was named Fireman of the Year. Bob also served as Constable for the Town of Rochester, and was a youth group leader for the Rochester Reformed Church in Accord, NY. Bob was a member of the Geological Society of America, and was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, Eastern Section. For many years, he served as coach for Indian Valley Little League, as instructor for driver’s education, and was a member of the Wawarsing Rod and Gun Club. He served as president for several of these organizations, as well as the SUNY Ulster Faculty Association.
Bob is survived by his wife of 55 years, Susan Matson; his three children, Lawrence (Patricia) Matson, Robert (Marsha) Matson, and Edward (Melissa) Matson; his much-loved five grandchildren, Amanda, Nicole, Elizabeth, Catherine, and Sarah; brother Gary (Jean); and several nieces, nephews, and cousins. In addition to his parents, Bob was preceded in death by his sister, Carol Roys, and two infant sisters, Joann and Beverly.
The family will be present to receive friends on Friday, November 8th, from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm at Jacksonville United Methodist Church, 1869 Trumansburg Rd, Jacksonville, NY 14854. A funeral service will immediately follow, at 12:00 pm at the church. Prayers of committal will immediately follow at Grove Cemetery, Trumansburg. A reception at the church will follow the service.
The family asks those who would like to make a donation in Bob’s memory to kindly consider the Professor Lawrence Matson Scholarship at SUNY Ulster, Stone Ridge, NY 12484; Little Ones Learning Center, 5142 Route 209, Accord, NY 12404; or Rondout Valley Lions Club, P.O. Box 104, Stone Ridge NY 12484.