Mattox leaves important legacy

The Upper Ohio Valley lost one of its great leaders last week with the death of John Mattox at age 84.

And while those who knew Mattox are grieving his absence, they also know that the contributions he made to our region were so numerous and important that they will endure for generations.

Mattox was a pillar of the community ­– not just because of all the boards he served on or because of the organizations he founded, but also because of his genuine care and concern for people from all walks of life.

In addition to founding the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing and the local chapter of A Special Wish Foundation, Mattox took the time to visit friends and acquaintances in nursing homes and hospitals on a regular basis. He called friends and loved ones frequently, just to check in. He lived his life with purpose and determination, and he carried on even when he encountered roadblocks and losses of his own.

Mattox was a U.S. Air Force veteran, a retired insurance agent and a supporter of many local education, health care and correction and rehabilitation organizations. He spent time educating others, raising money for charity and lending many helping hands.

As friends and colleagues have shared memories of him since his death on Wednesday, it has become apparent that the scope of his work was vast and that he has an important legacy that the rest of us must carry on.

Mattox spent years studying the history of the local region and of the United States, with a special interest in slavery. Perhaps it was his extensive knowledge of this era of brutality that inspired him to be so kind and compassionate to everyone.

Now that Mattox has passed, he is no longer able to share that knowledge with the rest of us. But because he established the museum, much of it remains available, preserved in Flushing for posterity. Fortunately, Mattox planned ahead and made certain that a foundation with a board of directors was established to protect the future of the museum that he began with his late wife, Rosalind.

Let’s honor Mattox’s memory by following his example. Let us be kind to one another and remember to look out for each other much like he did. And let us learn and understand the important lessons that history has to teach us, as Mattox did, lest we repeat the mistakes of the past.

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