Sam Wesley Matthews died on 26 Sep 2020. Born October 20, 1937 in Kilgore, Texas to Sam W. and Johnnye Faye Matthews both preceded him in death as well as his beloved wife of 55 years, Mary Faith Labor Matthews.
Sam is survived by his three children, Kim Acres (Kevin) of Buckhead, Ga; Roger Matthews of Holt, Fl; and Susie Matthews of Niceville, FL. Also surviving are grandchildren, Michael Matthews (Lauren), Kristy Pritchett (Joseph), Emily Dixon (Tyler) and Renee Legere; great grandchildren, Dustin, Joseph, Lizzie, Myca, Reese, Bella Faith, Wesley and Van; brother James Matthews (Jean), sister, Sybil Jean (Mike), brother, Robert (Cindy) and brother, John (Jamie).
Sam graduated from Tucson High School in 1955 and enlisted in the Air force. In 1977 he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace engineering from the University of Arizona. He spent 23 years working for Hughes Aircraft Company. He worked on the Falcon, Maverick, Phoenix, AMRAAM and TOW missiles. He took an early retirement from Hughes in 1989.
He then spent 20 years as a contractor supporting the 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron air-to-ground Weapon Systems Evaluation Program (Combat Hammer). His proudest work years were as a member of the “Hammer” family, where he got to work with real heroes every day. He became known as the “Godfather” of the Maverick and spent his final years training the next generation of engineers. In 2011, the National Defense Industry Association presented Sam with the prestigious Trifileti Award for his lifetime work making a significant contribution benefitting the warfighter and strengthening the national defense.
Sam was a loving and giving husband to Mary and father to his children. He had a smile that welcomed you and always had a fun story to share.
He was a longtime member of First Baptist Church on Bayshore.
A time of visitation will be at First Baptist Church on Bayshore, Thursday at 2:30 PM, funeral service at 3:00 PM. Interment will follow at Heritage Gardens Cemetery, Niceville. In lieu of flowers donations may be sent to the Benevolent Ministry of First Baptist Church on Bayshore, 622 Bayshore Dr, Niceville, FL 32578.
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