Kenneth (Ken) Austin Matthews, age 99, passed away on June 10, 2021. He was born on April 8, 1922 to Harry and Lottie Matthews in Hugo, Oklahoma. Ken grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas and graduated from Corpus Christi High School (now Miller) in1939. He was selected Best All-Around Athlete his senior year, lettering in football, basketball and track. He was high-point man (halfback) on his 1938 State Champs team, star tackle in 1939 and inducted into the Buccaneers’ Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002.
At the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, Ken played football for the legendary D.X. Bible from 1941-1943. During the 1941 season, the Longhorns were ranked best in the country by the Associated Press and were featured on the November 17, 1941 cover of LIFE Magazine (the only college sports team to achieve that recognition). Ken lettered each year and was named Honorable Mention All American Halfback at UT in 1942. He received his degree from UT after returning from WWII.
Ken volunteered for the Marines his senior year and attended the V-12 Navy College Training Program at Southwestern University while serving in a Marine Corp Reserve Unit and playing football until his orders to attend boot camp at Parris Island and subsequent orders to land on April 1, 1945 (Easter) at Okinawa for the last major battle of WWII where he was injured and received a Purple Heart. He served as a Regimental Intelligence Officer of the First Marines, First Division and was promoted to Captain. At the end of the war, Ken was sent to Tientsin, China from 1945-1946 for the repatriation of the Japanese soldiers back to Japan.
After Ken’s honorable discharge in 1946, he signed with the Chicago Cardinals pro football team, but his war injuries cut his football career short.
Ken had a long career as a Life Insurance Underwriter/Broker selling life insurance policies to pilots at the Naval Air Stations in Corpus Christi and Kingsville.
Ken Matthews was preceded in death by Ruth Fleming Matthews, his loving wife of 45 years who married him while at UT. He was also preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Lottie Matthews; his older brother, Richard Matthews and his daughter-in-law Carol Matthews.
Ken is survived by his son Douglas Kenneth Matthews; daughter Kenni Matthews Driver and her husband Milt Driver; as well as nieces, nephews and their families.
Ken is also survived by his Whataburger friends who filled his every day with joy: Bill, Joey and multiple others including staff. A special thank you goes to Mike Westergren for his longtime friendship to Ken and his family. The family is forever grateful for the care and love their dad received by so many care givers at Holmgreen Center at Trinity Towers and Palms Nursing & Rehabilitation at Corpus Christi including Chaplain Roxanne, Delores and Sylvia who made his life better. The family also has a special place in their hearts for the military persons and their diligence in honoring Ken, arranging for him to participate in military ceremonies and showing up for birthday parties at Whataburger along with city officials, other friends and staff.
A graveside service with prayers by Chaplain Roxanne will be held Thursday, July 8th beginning at 1:00 at Seaside Memorial Park located at 4357 Ocean Dr., Corpus Christi, TX 78412.
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