Art Institute official filled life with music
Ellis Matthews already knew how to play bass, piano and saxophone when he decided to start taking clarinet lessons at the age of 85.
“He was thrilled to be able to do that at this point in life, to see how far he could get with it,” said his daughter, Constance Matthews-Couoh.
Mr. Matthews filled his life with music, especially jazz. He’d travel to New York and New Orleans to see the greats play.
“There was never a time when he was not playing an instrument,” Matthews-Couoh said.
Ellis “Red” Matthews, 92, of Churchill, Ligonier and Palm City, Fla., died Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019.
He was born Sept. 13, 1926, to the late Charles and Ellen Matthews of Ligonier.
His father was a church organist and his mother loved to sing, and it was from them he inherited his lifelong passion for music.
He got his nickname because of his shock of bright-red hair.
As a young man in a band, Mr. Matthews would ride to shows on the handlebars of a friend’s bicycle, carrying his bass.
He went on to own and operate several dance studios. He hired an instructor — June Glaze — who eventually became his wife.
“They were lifelong dance partners,” said his daughter, Laura Mazefsky.
Mr. Matthews got out of the dance business to work in the admissions office at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, shepherding the organization through years of explosive growth. “He filled them up with students,” said his son-in-law Leonard Mazefsky.
He went on to work for the institution’s parent company, Education Management Corp., ending his career as vice president.
Mr. Matthews could make anybody laugh, his daughters said.
“When he was out with his friends, he was always the life of the party. He was always the one who knew 101 jokes,” Matthews-Couoh said.
That sense of humor belied his intelligence and drive for self-improvement, she said.
At home, Mr. Matthews was a loving father.
“He was totally dedicated to family,” Mrs. Mazefsky said.
He took the family on fishing trips to Canada and on other vacations.
He loved the Pirates and the Steelers.
Mr. Matthews was preceded in death by his wife, June Glaze Mathews; and son, James E. Mathews. He is survived by his daughters, Laura Mazefsky of Sewickley, and Constance Matthews-Couoh, of Upper St. Clair; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
A committal service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday in the chapel of Ligonier Valley Cemetery.
Snyder Funeral Home of Ligonier is handling the arrangements.
Memorial donations may be made online to Family Hospice and Palliative Care, Pittsburgh, or to the Treasure Coast Youth Symphony.
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter .