A full and well lived life came to a close on Saturday, October 14, when sadly, Barbara P Mathews was called to her heavenly home.
Barbara was a life-long resident of Jacksonville, born on May 21 1949 and growing up on the Northside. She spent her early years often fishing or shrimping with her dad and helping with the bountiful garden they grew and she learned life-long culinary skills. She worked in the original May Cohens store in downtown Jacksonville. She then made a career working for Bell South for 29 years, retiring in 2008.
Barbara was a beauty with piercing brown eyes and knee length jet black hair until she was 40 when she surprised everyone and cut it short. She met, swept him off his feet and married her perfect match in Jim Mathews, also a Southern Bell employee, on May 23, 1980. Barbara had a little red corvette then a Z car they traveled in but realized comfort was a more traditional car and a big red truck.
Their love of animals resulted in raising several dogs and a tame flying squirrel named Zang that preferred to live in Barbara’s shirt. Jim and Barbara loved boating on their vessel named Brain Damage and were often found at Talbot Island or Bird Island where they once garnered the attention of a law enforcement helicopter when they innocently beached during Bird mating season. They could also be found skiing on Black Creek or celebrating at the “Redneck Riviera” with boating friends. There were trips by boat to Silver Glen, spending the night in Astor Florida and dining at the Blackwater Inn.
Barbara and Jim loved traveling to Gatlinburg in the fall, frequenting their favorite pancake restaurant while proudly sporting Gator attire in enemy territory. Besides being Gator fans, they were original Jaguar season ticket holders traveling by boat to the games. They were also avid Nascar fans attending many races. After retirement they traveled across the USA, visiting many sites on their bucket list and seeing relatives in Kentucky.
Barbara and Jim fulfilled a dream by purchasing a ‘fixer upper” home on Pottsburg Creek and joined in the weekly neighborhood gatherings known as Wren Road Happy Hour that sometimes included golf cart races and a little imbibing. Many stories of their fun times started with “well if you can believe it, we might have been drinking at the time…”
Barbara was a phenomenal cook and often times fed the neighborhood on special occasions and holidays. They would also host fish fries using fish they caught and Barbara made the best coleslaw in the world. Barbara even “adopted” some fish under their dock and hand fed them bread where they surfaced when they saw her approaching. When first her mother in law then her elderly father needed care, Barbara and Jim made accommodations bringing both into their home. Barbara devoted her time and effort as a caregiver to both until their passing.
Barbara was predeceased by her father and mother, Orville and Chestiena Petty. She is survived by Jim Mathews, her partner, lover and husband affectionally known as “Ducky”; her brother Johnny (Henrietta) her brother in law Charles Mathews (Joanne) and many nieces, nephews and cousins. Barbara also leaves behind so many close friends and neighbors who mourn her loss. A Graveside Service celebrating her life will be held 11 AM Wednesday October 25th, 2023 in Evergreen Cemetery 4535 Main St Jacksonville, Florida 32206.