October 23, 1944 – March 8, 2020
It is with deep sadness the family of John Morton Mathewson announces his death, peacefully, on March 8, 2020, at Bluewater Health. He was 75. John is missed by his brother George (Karen) Mathewson of Sarnia. He was the loving uncle of France Mathewson and fiancé Vince Mariano, of Cambridge, Mark (Donna) Mathewson of Oil Springs, and Rick Mathewson and Jennifer Mathewson, of Fergus. He was also a proud great uncle of Arri Fineberg, of Cambridge, Bret Mathewson and Alli Mathewson, of London, and Makenna and Hunter Mathewson, of Fergus. He will be missed dearly by his faithful friend Sue LeClair, aka The Lady of Lakeshore. John was predeceased by mother Marion, father John Sr., and his brother Fred Mathewson.
The second of three boys, John was born in Montreal premature, a breech birth, deaf, and with a developmental disability. As a boy growing up in the rough-and-tumble Quebec village of Templeton he was a frequent target of taunts and mockery. Nevertheless, he maintained a gentle, helpful temperament enveloped in the rock-strong love of his mother, a nurse, and father, a naval sailor and jack-of-all trades.
In 1958, the family moved to Sarnia in search of a better life and John was enrolled at Lochiel Street elementary school. His formal education came to an end, legally and mercifully, in Grade 4, when he was 16 years old.
In a city and an era with few social services and no job prospects, John was sent for three years of “training” to The Huronia Regional Centre and the Southwestern Regional Centre. He spoke rarely of what transpired within the walls of those grim institutions, but it haunted him to the end.
Upon his return, his mother and a small group of determined women organized the first program in Sarnia for children with developmental disabilities, which evolved into the organization today known as Community Living Sarnia-Lambton. He loved “the workshop,” worked there more than 50 years, and was one of its last original members.
John had a warm sense of humour and enjoyed a good joke. His smile lit up the room. His memory was phenomenal and he was a truly excellent bowler. He raised tropical fish and filled his one-bedroom apartment with artificial flowers, the gaudier the better.
A familiar figure about town, John was often seen out walking, carrying groceries, waiting for the bus, inspecting building sites.
He died of pneumonia and a failing heart, holding his brother’s hand. John had a difficult life and yet remained a good man throughout it. And you can’t say more than that. A celebration of life will be held on June 20, 2020. Memorial donations in memory of John can be made to Community Living Sarnia-Lambton, at www.communitylivingsarnia.org. Arrangements are entrusted to the D. J. Robb Funeral Home & Cremation Centre (102 N. Victoria St, Sarnia, ON, N7T 5W9). Memories and messages of condolence may be sent through www.djrobb.on.ca