Mary Jane Barron was born in Buffalo on Jan. 24, 1944, to Charles Richard (Dick) Barron and Jane Elizabeth (Eggleston) Barron. She was the second of five children. She grew up in Friendship, where she was active in 4H, Girl Scouts and student council.
Matthews was an exchange student in Panama, first runner-up in her regional Miss America pageant, and a member of the National Honor Society. She graduated from high school in Friendship in 1962. In 1966, she graduated seventh in her class at Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science degree in both education and child development.
She was a member of the Tri Delta Sorority.
In 1962, she met Jan David Matthews, then a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy, at a youth fellowship Christmas party at Painted Post United Methodist Church. They married in 1966 at that same church. Matthews reared four children, all born within a 5-1/2-year span. Every day, she enriched her children's lives by taking them places and creating memorable experiences for them. As a family, they lived in North Kingstown, R.I.; Tecumseh, Mich.; Westminster, Md.; Grand Island; and Huntington Beach, Calif.
Matthews was an avid genealogist, sewing expert, and collector of Hummels, antiques, dolls and other collectables. She was highly intelligent and could answer just about any question about any subject. In addition to writing the curriculum at several colleges where she taught, she was a substitute teacher and a home schooling educator for the Grand Island School District. She also taught computers to children with Computer Tots during her time in California. Jan and Mary also lived together in New Fairfield, Conn., where she spent much time researching family history to pass on to future generations.
Her greatest achievement was as a mother for her children and as a grandmother for her seven beloved grandchildren. She had a unique gift for interacting with children of all ages. She created special activities that were both fun and educational. She wrote and sang children's songs, poems and stories that touched the hearts of all the children and the adults in her life. She always made time for individual attention for each of her children and grandchildren. She will forever be remembered and endeared as "Precious Grandma."
Mary is survived by her husband, Jan; her four children: daughters Suzanne Marie (Keith Hill) Matthews of Big Flats and Nancy Lee (Russell) Blondin of Minneapolis, and sons Jeffery David (Tamie) Matthews of Grand Island and Michael Gregory (Patricia) Matthews of Cypress, Texas; sister Sally Barron (Andrew) Dutcher of Painted Post; her seven grandchildren: Britny Anne Matthews, Christopher James (CJ) Matthews, David Jeffrey Matthews, Alexander Richard Matthews, Mitchell Keith Matthews Hill, Summer Jane Blondin and Skye Elizabeth Blondin; and several nieces and nephews. Mary was predeceased by her parents, her brothers, John Charles and Robert Richard Barron, and her sister, Nancy Lee Barron.
Calling hours will be held on Saturday, Sept. 18, from 1 to 3 p.m. with funeral services at 3 p.m. at Phillips Funeral Home, 17 W. Pultney St., Corning, NY. Burial will be in Maple Grove Cemetery in Friendship on Monday, Sept. 20, at 11 a.m.
Memorials may be made in Mary's name to your local Salvation Army.