Joseph Bythell Matthews

Published 10:23 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Joseph Bythell “J.B.” Matthews, a lifelong leader in The Salvation Army, who was best known in any gathering as a supremely competent, gentle, witty and godly man, died on April 10 in Bangor, Maine. At the time of his passing, he was preparing his home for its spring landscaping. Making splendid gardens was a passion for him in retirement, for he could create beauty with the beautiful love of his life, Mary, who was the prettiest flower in the garden. He acknowledged that she mostly gave directions and he followed. It seemed to work for them, as they were blessed with almost 62 years of marriage together.

J.B. and Mary have two children — a son, Jason, who is now a lobsterman and active community member on Swan’s Island, Maine, and a daughter, Lt. Col. Michele, who serves at The Salvation Army’s National Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In The Salvation Army, J.B. and the whole family had many appointments — in Oklahoma City, Atlanta, Washington and Louisville, among others. J.B. finished his Salvation Army career as the national chief financial officer of the entire organization.

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Tributes to J.B. consistently mention his calm pastoral demeanor, his love of laughter and his pure joy of family.

J.B. is also survived by a brother and sister and an extended family. He was particularly fond of his granddaughter, Morgan Michele, age 10. We all took a backseat to her. It’s OK, we dealt with it.

J.B. loved the Lord, read his Bible every day and prayed for his family.

He loved the New York Yankees and the Washington Redskins.

As an ardent outdoor grill master of some distinction, he awaits us all at the Lord’s banquet, finally playing his violin well, his cornet better, and his steaks, scallops and corn on the grill.

He never got enough cinnamon rolls.

J.B. was 86.

A celebration of life will be held at Parr Funeral Home, 3515 Robs Drive, Suffolk, on Saturday, May 12, 2018. Visitation with the family will begin at 10 a.m., with the service following at 11 a.m.