By Colonel Dave Gunn
Nov 14, 2013

Eagle Scout, Colonel James R. Mathis, Spotlighted at Timpview Veterans Tribute

Colonel James Reid Mathis was an Eagle Scout and a former Troop Committee Chairman and was actively involved with Scouting as a bishop for The Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He was spotlighted by his friend, Colonel Dave Gunn, at the 2013 America’s Freedom Festival and Timpview High School tribute to veterans.


Colonel Dave Gunn gives tribute to Colonel James R. Mathis (deceased)

One of the things that to me [Dave Gunn]  imitated who James was is how he treated employees while adjudicating for the Provo City Civil Service. Jim was the officer who oversaw grievance filings. He was caring and compassionate and truly tried to help however he could.

Colonel Mathis logged over 9000 hrs as a pilot, served two tours in Vietnam. He earned many prestigious awards including a Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit.

His last active duty job was at the Pentagon with the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) where he directed the Military Airlift Command position, a position of national and international prominence.

James Reid Mathis

James Reid Mathis
May 10, 1932-July 5, 2013

Given Jim’s distinguished pedigree, Provo City was delighted to hire him as our airport manager. I [Dave Gunn] had the privilege of working with him for 17 years, and saw the remarkable success and advancement the airport enjoyed under his leadership.

Under Jim’s direction, we extended the main runway from 7200 to 8600 feet, paving the way for large commercial and military aircraft. We also upgraded every aspect of the facility to acquire radars, navigators, communication equipment, lighting systems and expansion of the airport businesses.

Jim’s leadership paved the way for a control tower and commercial services.

He was recognized by the Utah Airport Operator’s Association (UAOA) as airport manager of the year and American Public Works Association (APWA) as employee of the year.

Jim worked at any job needing completion. He was compatible with senators and congressmen, but he also worked well with the blue collar guys. He was a man for all levels. He was not egocentric. He truly cared about others.

Totally unpretentious, he could be seen plowing snow from runways in the winter, or helping deliver 16,000 automated rollout garbage cans.


One of Colonel Mathis’s grandkids listens to Mayor John Curtis

Jim’s patience, empathy and wisdom were valuable assets to the city as he served as chairman of the Civil Service Community for 15 years, dealing with issues, disputes and grievances between labor and management.

Due to his compassion and leadership, he was able to inject a spirit of fairness and justice to both sides of difficult, and often emotional issues.

Yes, James Reed Mathis was a leader who carried with him many titles of respect and status: office, commander, colonel, manager, chairman and bishop. But those close to him will remember Jim as a friend, husband, father, grandpa and cherished counselor.

Jim represents the best attributes of a veteran – a man who saw his responsibility as a citizen , and served god, country, family and community with consistent and faithful dedication.

Author: Colonel Dave Gunn | Provo City Veterans Council Chair


Born on May 10, 1932 in Price, UT, James Mathis grew up to be an outstanding man. from the 1930’s till July of 2013 he acted as a student, officer, husband, father, bishop, pilot and veteran.

He received his graduate degree in 1954 as a distinguished Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). He was married in 1954 to his soul-mate E. LaRee Mathis in the Salt Lake City LDS Temple.

Jim served two combat tours in Vietnam in diverse command and staff positions in the Air Force and performed as a command pilot, logging over 8,000 hours in multiple aircrafts. In his 24 years of distinguished service, Jim received many awards and accolades including the Legion of Merit, the Bronze star and the Meritorious Service Medal.

As a member of the Senior Air Force Staff, Jim served his last seven years of his military career at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. There he served with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and managed the operations of the Military Airlift Command, a task of extreme responsibility.

Following retirement from the Air Force, Jim worked as the airport Manager for Provo City, where he served for 17 years. Jim was recognized as the “Airport Manager of the Year” by the Utah Airport Managers Association, and “Public Works Employee of the Year” by the American Public Works Association.

Later, Jim served many years as a leader on the Provo Veterans Council. Student Government coordinator Cassidy Baker said, “Jim was a major player in coordinating, finding, inviting veterans in city meetings as well as at Timpview assemblies. He later worked on combining the efforts of Provo city and Timpview to honor veterans.” His leadership and guidance in this capacity was unprecedented and today is sorely missed. Therefore it is, according to Baker, “only right to honor him.”

People all around him looked to him as a leader, an adviser and a friend. Dave Gunn said, “I knew him very well, he was one of my best friends.”

Jim is survived by his sweetheart, LaRee, 3 children, 12 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.

Author: Sarah Christensen |Thunderbolt Staffwriter, November 11, 2013, p. 3


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