Tom Matthews was deeply involved in the civic and business health of Tracy. He served as president of the Tracy Chamber of Commerce, was the chamber’s industrial chairman for 15 years, was one of the founders of Westside Bank, was head of the committee to build a new city hall and served on the board and was board president of what is now Sutter Tracy Community Hospital.
Matthews was named “Mr. Tracy” in 1964. That honor is now known as Citizen of the Year.
Jim Meservy owned the gas station at the corner of 11th Street and Central Avenue. Meservy not only did business with Matthews he played a monthly game of poker with him as well.
“He was a good businessman, that’s for darn sure,” Meservy said in an interview Thursday. “We used to have coffee at the Tracy Inn every morning and every afternoon. We always matched for coffee and the loser had to pay.”
Matthews was born in Upland on Feb. 7, 1931, and moved to Tracy with his family when he was 6 years old.
Matthews’ father, Harvey F. Matthews, bought the Tracy Press on July 1, 1943. When Harvey Matthews died April 8, 1949, his wife, Laura, took over the operations of the newspaper.
Tom Matthews enlisted in the Air Force in 1953 and served until 1956, when he was discharged and began attending the University of San Francisco. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from USF.
He was married in 1957 when he and his younger brother, Sam, joined the Tracy Press staff.
Tom and Sam Matthews were named co-publishers of the Press, along with their mother, in 1960 and took over daily operations. Laura retired from the Tracy Press in 1966, and the brothers ran the newspaper, with Tom Matthews as business manager, until they retired in 1997.
One of Matthews’ first acts was to turn the twice-weekly afternoon paper into a morning newspaper delivered three times a week.
Matthews was proud to have brought new technology to the Press, in 1961 becoming only the second California newspaper to use a “cold-type” web offset press. The new press allowed Matthews and the Press to develop a secondary business as a printer of other publications and advertisements.
“It is clear how important Tracy was to Tom Matthews, and how important he was to Tracy,” Will Fleet, co-publisher of the Press, said. “All of Tracy should be grateful for the lasting legacy Tom and his family have left to this community.”
Outside of the community, Matthews was dedicated to the craft and business of journalism. He was director of the California Newspaper Publishers Association and was active in both the American Newspaper Publishers Association and the California Press Association.
Matthews is survived by his wife, Araceli Matthews; four children, Bob Matthews of Portland, Ore., Jodie Adair of Pacific Palisades, Katherine Matthews of Tracy and Victoria Matthews of Santa Barbara; his brother, Sam Matthews of Tracy; and six grandchildren. One daughter, Elizabeth Matthews, preceded him in death.
The family is holding a Celebration of Life, Saturday, Feb. 1, at 11:30 a.m., Fry's Memorial Chapel, 550 S. Central Avenue.
• Contact the Tracy Press at 835-3030 or firstname.lastname@example.org.