A major gift bequest establishing the Donald L. and Ruth A. (Morehead) Mathews Scholarship Endowment Fund of $644,540 was announced on Tuesday, Oct, 27. Mathews, the late University of Findlay professor and chairman of the division of mathematics and computer science, along with his late wife Ruth, are included in a group of past and present teachers who have a passion for molding young minds, and their generosity and passion were felt at UF during the presentation.
Mathews, who passed away in 2012, was a 1951 graduate of Blume High School in Wapakoneta. He received his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Ohio University in 1957 and got a graduate degree in mathematics from Indiana University in 1966, also serving in the army for two years during that time. His wife Ruth Ann received her bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University and retired in 1995 after 26 years as an elementary school teacher in Attica and Old Fort, OH. She passed away in 2019.
A long and prosperous career for Donald included a stretch of years as a math and science teacher at Buckskin Valley High School, and, from 1962 to 1985, as a mathematics teacher at Fostoria High School where he was senior advisor, National Honor advisor, and mathematics department head. After retiring from public school teaching, Mathews taught mathematics at Findlay College/University of Findlay from 1985 to 2003, where part of his course load initially included teaching in the prison system in Lima, OH. “He was a kind person, always caring about his students and his teaching as he worked in these diverse settings,” said Anne Albert, retired UF math professor and former co-chair of the math department. “He was positive about his experiences teaching at the correctional facility.” For several years he also served as the math and computer science chair at UF.
Mathews brought with him to UF his knowledge from years of high school teaching. Like all truly caring educators, he put the students in his class at the forefront of importance. As a storied teacher himself, he had a particular commonality and a special place for those who planned to use their math skills to teach, and took certain pride in helping those who needed a nudge toward success. “He said that he wouldn’t take any credit for the success of his top students. Each student mattered to him. Don recognized that future teachers who have needed to struggle to learn and succeed may become the best teachers,” said Albert.
As much as his kindness and consideration was felt by his students, colleagues remember Mathews as someone who selflessly shared his knowledge with anyone who might be better because of it, and someone who was just as admirable in life off of campus as on. “He was certainly a well-liked math teacher,” said Craig Gunnett, assistant professor of computer science at UF, “and a very easy going and nice colleague to work with, as well as a long-term husband, and a very kind and gentle person.”
“He was kind and consistent in his work with colleagues and with other faculty around campus,” remembered Albert. “He also was a member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and of the Mathematical Association of America, and enjoyed sharing information on teaching mathematics. He was always willing to discuss ideas on courses and curriculum, and was generous with his time and talents.”
“Don and his wife were full-time educators, part-time farmers, and always very kind and funny souls,” added Paul Langhals, assistant professor of computer science at UF.
Their endowed scholarship will be awarded annually to one senior, who is in the upper third of his or her graduating class, as well as a first-time college-bound student planning to enroll at UF from each of the following schools: Fostoria High School; McClain High School; Old Fort High School; and Wapakoneta High School. For more information, check out the University of Findlay Endowment Funds page here.