Betty Matthews, 80, of Monticello, died on February 26, 2018.
She was born on November 5, 1937 to Henry Arthur Nobles, Jr. and Mary Alverne Greene Nobles Berry and was raised by her grandparents Henry Arthur Nobles, Sr. and Ruby Gray Hunter Nobles.
Dr. Matthews was truly blessed. She was raised by strong godly grandparents, who adored her immensely and made sure that her spiritual grounding was strong, and that her education and personal values were a high priority. She held two baccalaureate degrees (English and History) from UAM (then Arkansas A&M) and obtained a Masters and Doctorate degree from University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
She began her distinguished career in education teaching High School English at Pine Bluff High School. Following a brief stint at Pine Bluff High School, she began what she would come to realize was her true life’s calling. She served as a professor of English after joining the UAM faculty in 1967. She served the university for almost half of a century, being the first female faculty member to earn tenured status.
During her years of service, Dr. Matthews was Faculty Representative/Compliance Officer for the UAM Athletic Department. She established the “Dr. Betty A. Matthews Women’s Athletic Scholarship/Endowment”, to provide female athletes much needed additional financial assistance for pursuing their education. She was also an avid Boll Weevil fan. She was a member of the Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority and was a charter member for the Chi Omega chapter of Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society and continued as the faculty sponsor. In addition, she was deeply involved in Alpha Chi, the all University Honor Society and was chosen as their first “Teacher of The Year”. Out of her generosity, she was instrumental in purchasing carpet for the Missionary Baptist Student Fellow Campus Ministry building because of her passion to see college students meet in a comfortable setting as they pursued their faith In God.
Dr. Matthews, or “BAM”, “Doc”, or “BA”, as she was affectionately referred to by family and friends, truly loved her profession with a passion that was unmatched. She relished the countless opportunities that she was given to impact the lives of so many students over the years. She not only cared deeply about the academic pursuits of her students, but she genuinely cared for them as people as well. She often counseled many of her students in the confines of her office on issues pertaining to academics, as well as their personal lives. She was a great source of inspiration and motivation to those in her company. She realized that the University setting was her mission field, and she utilized it to the fullest. Her legacy will continue to live on at UAM.
Dr. Matthews was a lover of life and strived to make the most out of the time allotted to her by her Creator. She had a delightful sense of humor, with a particular zest for all things that were interesting, entertaining, and related to chocolate. She was a huge fan of Jimmy Buffett, Willie Nelson, and The Eagles. She was also an extremely gifted and talented pianist, who could play virtually any hymn or song strictly by ear. She had an independent spirit and was a fierce advocate for the downtrodden. She was compassionate and charitable, many times unbeknownst to anyone other than herself and her Savior.
Dr. Matthews joined First United Methodist Church in Monticello, Arkansas in 2002. She had been a member of Pauline Missionary Baptist church for 12 years prior to that.
Dr. Matthews was preceded in death by the father of her children, Henry Victor Matthews, Sr. as well as his mother, and her longtime friend and mother-in-law, Mary Louise Brinkley Wells. She was also preceded in death by both of her grandparents, Henry Arthur Nobles, Sr. And Ruby Gray Hunter Nobles as well as her biological parents, Henry Arthur Nobles, Jr. and Mary Alverne Greene Nobles Berry. She had two brothers and a nephew, Donald Allen Nobles, Howard Arthur Nobles and Hunter Smith that reached heaven prior to her arrival.
She is survived by her two children, Henry Victor Matthews, Jr. (Hank) and his wife Diane Doucet Matthews, and her daughter Laura Gray Matthews Wilson and husband Jeff Wilson; five grandchildren, Joshua Phillip Matthews and wife Taylor, Courtney Elizabeth Matthews, David Hunter Matthews and wife Jenna, Daniel Lane Matthews and Cheney Elizabeth Wilson, all from Northwest Arkansas; a brother, Michael Roland Berry; two sisters, Harper Luanne Berry Greening (Doug) and Martha Nobles Smith (Tim); a sister-in-law, Brenda Nobles; many nieces and nephews, including Michael Berry II, Paul Bienvenu (Regina) Stephanie Goad (Michael), Amanda Westhelle (Richard), Ethan Nobles (Marci), Zack (Alev), Anna Grace Collins (Bobby) and Katie Kludy (Andy); and many great nieces and nephews.
Dr. Matthews had many caretakers with her during her last years on this earth, including Sharon Grandy, Johnnie Ingram, La’Kindra Royal, Denise Wilkerson, Riviera Scales, Terica Hampton, Roxie Rogers and Kim Franklin. They also became her family and were loved deeply by her. They will never know how much the family appreciates how well they loved “Doc Betty”.
Memorial services will be held on Saturday, March 10 at 11 a.m. at Stephenson-Dearman Funeral Home, located at 943 U.S. Highway 425 North in Monticello. Visitation with family and friends will be held at 10 a.m. at the funeral home prior to the memorial service
The family is requesting that all attendees consider wearing the color green. She loved Jesus, family, and UAM with everything she had and was; this gesture would honor her many years of service to UAM.
Contributions to the “Dr. Betty A. Matthews Women’s Athletic Scholarship” can be made in lieu of flowers for anyone who so desires. Mailing address for contributions: UAM Foundation, c/o John Davis-Office of Advancement P.O. Box 3520, Monticello Arkansas 71656. Memo Line: Dr. Betty A. Matthews.
A funeral service will be held at Stephenson-Dearman Funeral Home in Monticello on Saturday, March 10, at 11 a.m.