Longtime Atherton resident dies at 105

Memorial for Lou Matas to be held June 29

Lou Matas in 2016, in the living room of the tidy Atherton home he lived in since 1972. (Photo by Barbara Wood)

A memorial will be held on Saturday, June 29, for Atherton resident Louis Matas, who died on April 3 at age 105, according to Matas' friend Bob Perkins.

Matas, who went by Lou, was born in San Francisco on Jan. 30, 1914. He moved to Atherton in 1972.

In 2007, then-Atherton mayor Charles Marsala named Matas honorary "Mayor of Maple Avenue."

"Louis passed on peacefully and on his own terms just as he lived his long and generous life, loving those closest to him, building with quality and being an exceptional friend," said Matas' daughter Madelyn Noble and granddaughter Patricia Toole in a note.

Matas has lived alone since his wife, Marie, died in 1984. At home, he spent time in his garden, full of fruit and citrus trees, tinkering in the wood shop in his garage, or tooling around in his prized restored 1929 Model A Ford.

He also sang in the Golden Tones. Around age 98, he joined the Los Trancos Woods Community Marching Band, playing washboard.

It was his longtime neighbor, Doug Anderson, who got him interested in playing in the Los Trancos band – Anderson plays snare drums in the band. Matas and Anderson were friends for just about as long as they were neighbors.

"He's a wonderful neighbor," Anderson told The Almanac in a 2013 interview. "He has five tools of anything you need," and fixes anything in the Anderson home that Anderson "can't use duct tape or WD-40 on," he said.

Matas worked as a carpenter much of his life, from the time he dropped out of high school to help support his family during the Depression to when he retired at the age of 68 to be with his ill wife.

He was 27, with a child, when World War II broke out, and he worked in the shipyards for the defense industry during the war. He and his wife, Marie, had two daughters: Libby and Madelyn.

The Matas family lived in San Francisco until a doctor recommended moving somewhere with a bit less fog to address first-born daughter Libby's poor health. "The doctor thought that maybe if we could go somewhere where there would be a little sunshine," she would recover, so the family moved to near Santa Rosa, he said in a 2016 interview with The Almanac.

The family lived on Partridge Avenue in Menlo Park until they moved to Atherton in 1972.

In addition to his wife, his daughter Libby preceded him in death. Madelyn survives him.

Mayor Bill Widmer attended Matas' 105th birthday celebration earlier this year.

"He was, as always, in great spirits," Widmer said in an email. "He will be missed by his many, many friends here in town and in the surrounding region."

There will be a memorial for Matas from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 29, at the Carriage House in Holbrook-Palmer Park in Atherton, according to Perkins.


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Like this comment
Posted by Colleen Anderson
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jun 20, 2019 at 10:54 pm

He is such a great man and will be missed. Haven't seen him in years but what an amazing spirit

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