Pastor James “Jim” Mathews, 84 of Negaunee, MI passed away at home, surrounded by his loving family, on Monday, April 17, 2023 after a hard-fought battle with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). He was born in Elmhurst, IL on June 30, 1938, to the late Dale and Doris (Yagle) Mathews.
Jim is the second eldest child of seven, grew up in Daggett, MI and graduated from Stephenson High School (Stephenson, Michigan), class of 1956. As a young man, Jim worked with his dad and brother in the logging business. He also served his Country in the National Guard receiving an honorable discharge in 1959. After attending Northern Michigan University, Jim used his many talents and gift of sales in both the kitchen cabinet installation business and real estate. No one was a stranger to him, and he just loved people.
Having a strong connection to music, Jim enjoyed playing the piano, trumpet and harmonica. He taught his children to sing songs wherever they went and would later use this gift of music in his last career of nearly 50 years as a United Methodist Minister. Another passion was golf where Jim would sometimes record a score of 74 at the age of 80! He was a member of Wawonowin Golf Club and hit the links as often as he could.
Jim joined the Gideons in 1974, handing out Bibles to countless students, prisoners and hospital patients. In 1976, Jim pastored part-time at the Republic, Champion and Michigamme United Methodist churches, where he spearheaded a building project, merging Champion and Michigamme churches into Woodland United Methodist Church. While pastoring here, Jim completed the five-year course of study at Garrett Theological Seminary and was ordained by the Michigan United Methodist Church. Every appointment saw Pastor Jim bolstering attendance, bringing in young people and improving each church in some special way. His church appointments included Iron Mountain, L’Anse/Zeba/Sidnaw, Pickford, Vernon, Roseville, Stephenson/Hermansville and Calumet/Lake Linden. He even took part in a pulpit exchange and was able to pastor a church in England in 1989. Pastor Jim actively preached until January 1, 2022, touching countless lives and bringing souls to Christ.
Pastor Jim is survived by 4 daughters: Dorene Mathews, Susan (Edward) Kwan, Lori (John) Kirby and Kristen Derocha; 8 grandchildren; 9 great-grandchildren; sisters-in-law: Joyce Mathews and Jeanne Mathews; brother-in-law: Drew Atterbury; numerous nieces and nephews as well as precious friends and church members.
He was preceded in death by his parents: Dale and Doris; sisters: Patsy (Jimmy) LaCasse, Ruth Lebrun and Betsy Atterbury; and brothers: Norman, Jon and Michael Mathews.
A Celebration of Jim’s Life will be held at the Stephenson United Methodist Church on Wednesday April 26, 2023. Visitation will be from 10:00 am until time of Funeral Service at 12:00 pm with Reverend John Murray presiding. A luncheon will follow. Burial will be in the Stephenson Township Cemetery.
The family would like to thank friends who came to visit, offered prayers and dropped off meals and desserts. Special appreciation to Michael Willey and Kristen Derocha who provided a beautiful home for Kristen’s dad. Bonnie Kilpela, PA-C, who provided just the right words and care at critical times; Steven Gualdoni, PA; and the amazing nurses and staff of UP Health System Oncology and Lake Superior Hospice, who were kind and compassionate beyond compare. And last but not least, to Koskey Funeral Home for their assistance in the late hours.
The Anderson Diehm Funeral Home, Stephenson, MI is assisting the Mathews family with arrangements.
*Mathews, James M. – DECEASED [(RA) FL 1981; LD, AM 1986; RA 2003] Republic, Woodland 1981; Iron Mountain: First, Quinnesec June 1, 1984; Leave of Absence 12/1/1989; L’Anse, Sidnaw, Zeba 1990; Pickford 1993; Leave of Absence 1996; Seven Churches United Group Ministry: Vernon, Bancroft 8/1/1997; Roseville: Trinity, Warren: Wesley 10/1/2001; incapacity leave 2002; Retired 2003; Stephenson: First (½) 2003; Keweenaw Parish: Calumet, Lake Linden (½) 2019.