Wilbur H. Mathes, 84, of Chariton, passed away Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014 at Locust Hill in Knoxville.
Wilbur was born on June 8, 1929, to Raymond and Alice (Goemaat) Mathes in Attica. Wilbur was the oldest of four children. He grew up west of Melcher-Dallas where he developed a love for horses. Wilbur attended school in Dallas, and graduated with the class of 48.
Wilbur preferred working over school and believed there wasn’t a horse he couldn’t ride.
Following high school Wilbur joined the United States Army. Following his service in the armed forces Wilbur began working at Vermeer in Pella. Wilbur was joined in matrimony to Glenna Anderson. Wilbur and Glenna were blessed with three children Barry, Jill and Wesly.
As fate happens Wilbur found himself alone and remarried Janet Poppinga Mathes in 1976. Wilbur and Janet bought 20 acres south of Columbia. Wilbur moved in a trailer house and immediately started adding rooms. In true Wilbur fashion when he was confronted with the huge walnut tree he decided to just build the house around it. Next, he started moving in barns and buildings making a home for Janet. If someone told him something couldn’t be done Wilbur would find a way to do it. Whether it was a horse no one could ride or a building that couldn’t be moved, Wilbur did it.
As the years passed the neighbors would bring their broken machinery to Wilbur for repairs. The business was steady enough he left Vermeer and started his own welding shop at his home. The love he had for horses led him to build a stagecoach which carried Wilbur, Janet and the grandkids through the eighties hitting every parade along the way. In 1994 Wilbur began collecting western saddles. Wilbur loved all saddles from slick forks to high backs he would find the perfect spot to display them. As the collection grew so did his reputation. He became an expert on the various makers from the 1800’s to present day. He loved to share them with anyone, including Mrs. Galeazzi’s kindergarten classes.
Wilbur said trying to beat cancer at 84 was like riding a horse that never stopped bucking. The more you spur that horse the harder she kicks. On Feb. 16, 2014, Wilbur stepped off the horse and tipped his hat to the pearly gates.
Wilbur was preceded in death by his parents, Raymond and Alice, brother Arend, sister Junella, and daughter Jill. Those left to cherish his memory are wife Janet, brother Gerald (Carol) Mathes of Melcher-Dallas, brother-in-law Bill Fee of Melcher-Dallas, son Barry (Cathy) Mathes of Pennsylvania, son Wesly (Julie) Mathes of Madrid, Iowa, Janet’s children, Arend Gene (Pam) Mathes of Melcher-Dallas , Don (Glenda) Mathes of western Iowa, Charlotte (Lyndon) Schrader of Columbia, and many grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life service will be held Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, at 11 a.m. at Pierschbacher Funeral Home in Melcher-Dallas. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service. Inurnment will take place at Dallas Cemetery at a later date. Memorials may be given to the family.