Feb. 9, 1944 — Aug. 28, 2019
LAKE GEORGE — John Paul Matthews, beloved husband, proud daddy, adoring Gramps, respected and well-known contractor, marina owner and mentor, passed away at Fort Hudson Nursing Center on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, with his wife, daughter and son-in-law by his side.
John was the first of six children born to Frank R. Matthews and Selma Burghardt Matthews in Troy on Feb. 9, 1944. He grew up in Defreestville, where at an early age he became fascinated with how things worked. His love for Lake George and construction were a result of John helping his family build a camp on the lake when he was in his early teens.
John graduated from Columbia High School and then received his associate’s degree in electrical engineering from Hudson Valley Community College. He served in the army and was stationed in Germany, where he was assigned to the National Ski Patrol European Division as an instructor. In off hours, he rebuilt engines and repaired Mercedes and Porsches. He returned to the U.S. and established his contracting business, French Mountain Enterprises, building houses.
John married Diane, his lifelong partner and teammate, on June 29, 1979. Their best creation was their daughter, Thalia. Family was the center of the universe for this talented, self-made entrepreneur. As all that knew him were aware, John loved his work. Every morning, he looked forward to the new day. He remained a humble man of integrity and conviction throughout his professional career and personal life. John was an Adirondack guy and overseer of the lake. He had an uncompromising work ethic and infectious positive attitude. He was the ultimate fix-it man for everyone. Despite his occasional bark, he had a heart of gold and was always ready to help anyone in need without expecting anything in return. While doing so, he touched many lives for the good. He was affectionately called ‘danger,’ due to his willingness (and some would say preference) to take risks in order to get things done.
He built his own award-winning home along with several homes on the lake and throughout the area. He built one of the first solar energy homes and was often ahead of his time in his thinking. He also built numerous docks on the lake, small professional offices and even owned The Heritage Apartments on Bay Street in Glens Falls. The stone he dug from his Lake George granite quarry became the facade for Green Harbor, along with many buildings, homes and walls in the area. John spent countless evenings repairing his machinery and vehicles with his dog, Shannon, an Irish Setter, by his side. She spent the days with him and patiently waited at a job site when he forgot to bring her home. In 1998, John and Diane purchased Castaway Marina so John could fulfill his dream of running a marina with his daughter, Thalia. After 21 years, his vision has continued with Thalia and son-in-law, Lonny, at the helm.
Despite his work ethic, John knew how to balance work and play. He was on the ski patrol at West Mountain for over 40 years. Lake George was his playground, and he enjoyed both winter and summer sports on the lake. His favorite pastimes were sailing and taking leisurely boat rides in his Hacker (always with a Coors Light in hand).
John was predeceased by his parents; and brother, Andrew. Left to cherish beautiful memories are his wife, partner and best friend of 40 years, Diane; daughter, Thalia Matthews Chase, (Lonny) who was his pride and joy; granddaughters, Tatum and Brynne Chase, whom he loved beyond measure; stepdaughter, Tamara Cimmerian; brother, Joel Matthews (Joan); sisters, Kristina Matthews, Melissa Schroeder (James) and Rebecca Alexander; along with five nieces and five nephews; eight great-nieces and four great-nephews.
Calling hours will be from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 13, at Singleton Sullivan Potter Funeral Home, 407 Bay Road, Queensbury. A memorial service will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, at Caldwell Presbyterian Church, 71 Montcalm St., Lake George. A luncheon celebration will follow at the church.
We are eternally grateful to the nurses and aides on G Wing at Fort Hudson Nursing Center, who brought him comfort and loving care during the last year of his life. We also thank all of those who helped and supported John and his family during his seven-year journey with Alzheimer’s.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in John’s memory to Fort Hudson Nursing Center (G Wing) and the Alzheimer’s Association of Northeastern New York.
To express online condolences, visit www.sbfuneralhome.com.