Don J. Mathison, July 6, 1926 - June 26, 2020

Don J. Mathison
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Don "Matt" Mathison, age 93, passed away peacefully on June 26, at his residence in Eau Claire.

His kindness, keen mind, and regard for others showed through right up to his final days. 

Matt was born in Eau Claire on July 6, 1926.  He was a proud attendee of Gower Rural School in the Town of Hallie, of Eau Claire Senior High School, and of Eau Claire Teachers College.  He graduated from the latter in 1949 with a major in math and physical science. 

Matt taught those subjects at Chippewa Falls Junior High from 1949 to 1951 and then at Central Junior High in Eau Claire.  He became principal at Central in 1962 and later was the first principal at the new South Junior High, where he served until his retirement in 1989.  He designed the educational specifications for both South and DeLong Middle Schools. 

Matt was instrumental in establishing foreign language options at the junior high schools.  As a teacher, he also established science as a required class and developed advanced classes in science, math, and english.  In doing so, he moved the schools beyond their traditional reading, writing, and arithmetic curriculum into a broader and more comprehensive program.  

Matt will be especially remembered in his professional life for his leadership and his integrity in all things, except in the reporting of his golf scores and fish stories.  

Matt was preceded in death by his wife, Leatrice, in 2016.  Both were longtime members of Grace Lutheran Church in Eau Claire.  He was also preceded in death by his brothers Lee and Dick. 

Matt is survived by several nieces and nephews, plus the many thousands of students, faculty, and friends in whose lives he had a role.  He was especially thankful for the help of Carol Airis and Cindy Dahl in his later years. 

Private committal service with military honors will take place at Lakeview Cemetery in Eau Claire.  A celebration of life service will take place at a later date once restrictions have been lifted from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In lieu of flowers, Matt preferred that your kind donations be directed to either the L.E. Phillips Senior Center, 1616 Bellinger Street, Eau Claire, WI 54703  or Grace Lutheran Church, P.O. Box 965, Eau Claire, WI 54702. Friends and family may offer condolences online at

Hulke Family Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 3209 Rudolph Road, Eau Claire, WI 54701 is assisting the family with the arrangements. 


  1. Peggy Hagmann Thill July 14, 2020

    Thank you Don for all that you gave to students. Thank you for your magnificent support of staff. You were my first principal that hired me to teach. As years moved on, you told me "I was born a teacher". I carried that with me throughout my career. This is your legacy. You passed on your wisdom and your very deep and genuine love of education, of students, and of those who carried on in the same roles. We will continue to carry on with your spirit and your heart as our guide. Thank you Don.

  2. Kali Kocmoud July 12, 2020

    Matt was a great man and my father loved working with him. Maybe now they can have a good round of golf.

  3. Star July 9, 2020

    Best Boss Ever

  4. Debe Kortness July 7, 2020

    We were long time neighbors of Mr. Mathison. He always was so nice, teaching us neighborhood kids about whatever he was doing in his yard. My condolences.

  5. Ellen Welke Yule July 5, 2020

    I always remember his smile.....very friendly and made me always feel cared about. I was at Central when he was the Principal. He was someone anyone could always go to with any worries. He touched many, many lives. The family has my sympathy. He is for sure in a heavenly place. Very thankful for having him touch my life.

  6. Holly Hart July 4, 2020

    My condolences to Don’s family and to all who knew and will miss him. He was a great administrator, mentor and friend to many. His integrity and care for the students who attended the district’s schools were his trademark. I remember watching Don hand schedule kids that he knew were struggling despite the monumental task of scheduling over 1800 kids in an old building with a much lower maximum capacity. He always put the kids first. Staff could always count on his support as long as it was good for the kids. I was lucky to start my work in education working for him. He will be missed.

  7. Mike and Kathy Peterson July 3, 2020

    Thinking of D and Diz together again and loving family time with their wives❤️❤️
    Cindy and Carol ... god bless your loving care❤️❤️

  8. Linda Brenner June 30, 2020

    Matt hired me as a teacher back in the 70s. I couldn’t think of a more understanding, wise and respectful person. I feel it was an honor to have work with him. He was all about making our and school and us better. God Bless him!

  9. Maribeth Woodford, Executive Director June 30, 2020

    The Chippewa Valley Free Clinic offers sincere condolences for the loss of Mr. Mathison. He made many meaningful, generous donations to keep countless families healthy, improving the lives of others in our community during his lifetime. He truly was a gift to the Free Clinic and our patient services were strengthened by his support.
    Our thoughts are with family and friends during this time of sadness.

  10. Debra Jansen June 30, 2020

    Mr. Mathison was a kind and generous supporter of our nursing undergraduate and graduate students. The scholarships he and Mrs. Mathison provided helped many students pursue their dreams of becoming nurses and nurse practitioners. We will miss seeing him as he loved to meet with the students.

  11. Kimberly Hill June 29, 2020

    I was stunned and sad to learn about Don’s passing. He was a wonderful friend to our family. I admired and appreciated his wisdom and kindness. He will be missed.

  12. Laurie Zukaitis June 28, 2020

    A great man with a big heart! He truly was one of a kind!

  13. Jim Paulson June 28, 2020

    Don was a great guy. He was married to my first cousin, Leatrice. He was my jr high Principal at Central Jr High in the early 70s. Don and Leatrice will truly be missed...they were a great couple!

  14. Larry Bennett June 28, 2020

    Don was truly a great friend and a great administrator for the Eau Claire School System. I had the privilege of working under him at Central Junior High and South Middle School. His main concern and interest was the welfare and education of every student.