Eva Lynn Mathewson was born Aug. 25, 1940, in Staples, Minn., to Walter and Eleanore Willis. She died Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, at Clarkston Health and Rehabilitation of Cascadia in Clarkston.
Eva attended Sacred Heart Catholic school in Staples, Minn., until the eighth grade and went on to attend Staples High School. After graduation, Eva left for Minneapolis, where she attended the Minnesota School of Business to train as a PBX receptionist at The Switchboard School. She secured a job at a publishing company, Burgess-Beckwith, Inc., where she worked for a couple of years before securing a job as a PBX receptionist and information clerk at the Veterans Administration Hospital.
In 1960, she married Richard W. Frikken and they had one child, Randy. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1962.
In 1962, Eva moved back to her hometown of Staples, Minn., and began working for the Northwestern Bell Telephone Company. While working for the telephone company, Eva received the Theodore N. Vail Bronze Medal for giving lifesaving directions over the telephone that saved a choking toddler’s life.
After the phone company installed the direct-dial system in Staples, Eva relocated to Brainerd, Minn., where she attended the Brainerd State School and Hospital and received her Psychiatric Technician Certificate. During this time, she met Ralph Mathewson.
On May 23, 1970, she married Ralph Mathewson, who adopted her son Randy. They had two children together, Randy and Ramona.
In 1970, they bought land 10 miles from Columbia Falls, Mont., at the foot of Blaine Mountain and lived as homesteaders, building their own water, irrigation and sewer system. They installed a bridge and excavated their own trout pond. The property was secluded and peaceful, with a meandering stream, a waterfall that cascaded off the mountain during the spring and early summer, and a pond that froze over in the winter, which made a nice ice skating rink. Eva referred to this as her “back-to-nature period.” She raised banty chickens, ducks and pigs. She canned, sewed, rendered fat, ground flour and dried herbs. She did anything she could think of to help save money and keep the growing family self sufficient.
In 1977, the family moved to Lewiston, where they remained for 45 years. Eva worked as a lunch-room aid, took sign language classes and became a tutor for the deaf. In 1980, she began working at the local bullet manufacturing plant. In 1989, she enrolled at Lewis-Clark State College and received her degree in 1991. She began working for Area Agency On Aging as the ombudsman for five counties and finally finished her career as the director for the Retired Senior Volunteer program.
Eva had many hobbies and interests. She had an eye for pretty things and loved a good deal, so you could often spot her at a thrift store. She took classes on flower arranging, pottery, stained glass and painting. She was a proficient cake decorator and decorated the wedding cakes for both of her children. Eva was known for her “green thumb” and nurtured many a plant in her lifetime, most notably a beautiful orchid collection. She was an excellent cook and made fantastic fruit pies. She loved reading and she sang in the church choir every Sunday. Eva was a member of the Montana Symphony chorus and also a member of the Washington Idaho Symphony chorus. She was a member of the rotary club and served as president from 1999-2000.
She is survived by her children: son, Randy Mathewson; daughter, Ramona Stinson; granddaughter, Kate Stinson of Lewiston; and brother Mike (Phyllis) Willis of Plymouth, Minn.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Walter and Eleanore Willis; husband, Ralph Mathewson; sister, Lauretta Wesely; and son-in-law William “Billy” Stinson.
The family would like to extend a special thanks to St. Joseph Regional Cancer Center and Blood Institute, Clarkston Health and Rehabilitation of Cascadia, Advanced Hospice, and Elite Hospice.
A private remembrance will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers or gifts, donations can be made to a charity of your choice.