Francis ‘Frank’ P. Matthews Jr.
June 12, 1921 – April 12, 2019
He Was Always a Gentleman First
Francis “Frank” P. Matthews Jr. was a dedicated lawyer who held high standards but was always fair, honest and himself.
Matthews died in his sleep April 12. His funeral was Monday at St. Cecilia Cathedral with internment at Calvary Cemetery.
“He was like many people of his generation: a complete gentleman and always very much sensitive to what the other person might be thinking,” said daughter Anne Weitz of Omaha. “He was humble and open to people.”
Matthews served as president of the Omaha Bar Association in 1964. Dave Sommers, executive director of the OBA, said the association is mourning his loss.
“We are grateful for him to have been a part of the Omaha Bar Association,” Sommers said.
Matthews attended Cathedral Grade School and Creighton Prep High School in Omaha before enrolling in Georgetown University. He joined the U.S. Army after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, and he married his high school sweetheart, Helen Spencer Matthews, in 1944. Afterwards, Matthews attended the Creighton University School of Law, where he earned his J.D. in 1948.
He was a practicing attorney for four decades, and he was active in pro bono work during his retirement. Weitz said he started out working in corporate law.
“He represented some of the companies that have become very large in the ensuing years,” she said. “He was very dedicated to the rule of law and justice.”
Matthews retired from legal practice in 1987, Sommers said. He enjoyed his long retirement by spending time with his large family, including his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“He really enjoyed his career as a lawyer, but he had many, many things that he enjoyed outside of being a lawyer,” Wietz said.
His eight children all went on to have successful careers of his own, with his son Pat following him into legal practice.
“They enjoyed a great conversation and a great affinity over their love of the law,” Weitz said.
Matthews himself was deeply influenced by his father’s legacy as an attorney, and he sought to emulate his father’s example.
Francis P. Matthews Sr. served as U.S. Navy secretary in the Truman administration and later as ambassador to Ireland. His father’s papers are part of the collection at the Truman Library.
Matthews told The Omaha World-Herald in 2015, on the occasion of becoming first recipient of the Bernadette “Bonnie” Pryor Distinguished Alumnus Award at St. Cecilia Elementary School, that he was “unashamedly proud” of his father’s legacy.
“His own dad was an icon to him,” Weitz said. “My dad grew up with a great role model in his dad, and he was very proud of his dad – and justifiably so.”
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Creighton Prep, Community Alliance or the Stephen Center.
Matthews was preceded in death by his wife of 67 years; his son Francis Patrick Matthews, III; and his sisters Mary Claire Dwyer, Kathleen Irvine, Patricia Belvin, Marian Howard and Marguerite Schneider. In addition to Weitz, Matthews is survived by children Mary Michaela Colquhoun, Joan Miller, John Matthews, Thomas Matthews, Eileen Hansen and Molly Multedo. He is also survived by 20 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.
– Scott Stewart