Donald H. Matheny, 89, beloved husband of Shirley Matheny, father of Donna Matheny and Ronald (Kathy) Matheny, grandfather of Shanda (Barry) Finley, Christine Matheny and Joseph (Destine) Andrews III, and “Papa” to Hannah, Cadence and Addyson Finley, Taylor, Keenan and Adrien Andrews, passed away at Prospect Park Living Center on March 26, 2009.
He was born in Albion, Illinois, to Lee Vern Matheny and Edna (Harris) Matheny on Mother’s Day, May 11, 1919. He graduated from Albion High School in 1937, studied engineering at the University of Illinois for one year, and then moved to Denver in 1940 to attend the Colorado Institute of Aeronautics in order to become a hydraulic mechanic. During the early years of WWII, he worked at Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica, California, until he joined the army in 1944.
He served as an automatic rifleman in the infantry on the front line in combat in just one campaign in the European theater following the Battle of the Bulge when he was critically wounded with severe head and leg injuries from flying shrapnel on January 17, 1945. He spent 15 months in hospitals in England and here at home before being honorably discharged with 100% disability in the spring of 1946. Due to shrapnel imbedded in his brain, he lost sight in his left eye and all feeling on the left side of his head. His left carotid artery was severed during surgery at the field hospital, causing a “swishing noise” in his head, and as a result, he suffered headaches for more than 25 years.
He worked as a hydraulic mechanic at Lowry Air Force Base from the mid 1950s until his early medical retirement in 1975.
Don and his wife Shirley have been long-time residents of the Estes Park area. In 1935, he and his dad built a cabin in Meeker Park, and Shirley’s family had a cabin near Charlie Eagle Plume’s Trading Post. With both fathers being teachers, both families were able to enjoy their summers in this beautiful setting. While Don and Shirley first met in 1940, they didn’t marry until after the war. On June 12, 1948, they were married in a double wedding ceremony with her sister, Charlene, and Irv Rich. Both couples have made their homes in Estes Park since 1980.
An open house in celebration of Don’s life will be held at the Matheny home in Estes Park at a later date. Memorial contributions can be made to Prospect Park Living Center in care of Allnutt Funeral Service, 1302 Graves Avenue, Estes Park, CO 80517. See www.allnutt.com to see Donald’s on-line obituary and send a message to the family.