Francis Gregory Mathias of Lawrence, KS, was born in Benton Harbor, Michigan, December 26, 1941, and passed away November 13, 2016. Greg was frail and ready to leave this earth…probably out of spite, because his family wouldn’t let him walk across Scotland while battling Alzheimer’s. He had a good life, full of adventure and laughter. He was 74.
Greg knew how to live, and he would also tell you how you should live, but that might’ve been the disease talking. He was a man full of vigor. He loved travel, throwing parties, friendly debates, and could unleash one of those loud whistles. He also thought he could dance, but that has been rebutted. His formative years were spent in Ohio, Indiana, and Alabama (where he was a high school basketball star), and he proudly served in the US Navy for four years. After his stint in the Navy, he earned an A.B. degree from the University of North Alabama. Subsequently, Greg ventured to Oxford, England, with a copy of Frommer’s Europe on $5 a Day in his pack and hitchhiked throughout Europe. During that adventure, over a beer in Munich, Germany, he met his future wife Emily. Back stateside, Greg earned his M.A. in Soviet Politics at Ohio University, and his J.D. at Washburn University in Topeka. Greg was serious about his work, having a 28 year law career in the office he shared with his father-in-law, the late George S. Benson Jr., in El Dorado, KS. While in El Dorado, Greg served in the US Army Reserves, retiring at the rank of Lt. Colonel. He was a first-rate father, passing on his love for life to his children, along with his terrible jokes. He was the life of the party, a funny, good-natured man, and the world was lucky to have him. He loved his friends and family more than anything, and those who knew him well, will definitely miss that “wild and crazy guy.”
At a later date, there will be a small service for family in Phoenix, AZ, where Greg will be laid to rest beside his parents, Jack and Jerusha Mathias. He is also proceeded in death by his brothers Joe and David, his brother-in-law Dr. Warren Wilner, and his sister-in-law Mary Ruth (Lanning) Benson. Surviving are Greg’s wife, Emily (Benson) and daughter Caroline of Lawrence; son Andy, daughter-in-law Erin, and grandsons Emmett and August all of Seattle, WA. He also is survived by three sisters, Jackie Wilner of Canton, IL, Ann Sullivan (Bull) of Phoenix, AZ, and Judy Mullins (Phil) of St. Joseph, MO; sisters-in-law Martha Mathias of Union City, IN, Jane Durst of Madison, IN, and Toula Mathias of Athens, Greece; and brother-in-law Dr. George Benson III of Potomac, MD.
In lieu of flowers, say a prayer for Greg, have a drink in his honor, or better yet, write a scathing letter to your congressman. Greg was a liberal-minded man who loved to put pen to paper. He would’ve been happy to give you a stamp.