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Donald Ray (Don) Mathes was born June 24, 1944, at Crossroads, Mo., the only son of Ralph and Ethel Albright Mathes. He rode into the sunset of eternity from his home near Ava, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011, after a long and valiant battle with cancer.
After graduation from Ava High School he proudly served in the US Air Force 21 years before retiring back to the Douglas County farm he loved. Don was very active in the Ava Saddle Club, and the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association. He was eager to share his love of horses with young people, and help them learn showmanship and horsemanship.
He was always ready to load the horses and take youngsters to a show or trail ride. His answer for almost everything was to “saddle up” and go for a ride through the woods.
Don was totally devoted to his family and loved to spend time with them. Don was a football fan, cheering for the ‘underdog” instead of one particular team. He enjoyed fishing, especially eating the fish they caught. Don enjoyed life in
the Ozarks hills and woods.
Don was preceded in death by his parents, Ralph and Ethel Albright Mathes.
Don is survived by his wife of 49 years, Judy; one son and wife, Doug and Elizabeth Mathes, as well as one grandson, Zachary Mathes. He is also survived by a sister and her husband, Thelma and Harrison Neff, as well as a sister Dean Nelson. He will be sincerely missed by his special dog friend, Peanut. He also leaves special family members who came into his life: Audrey and Richard Hadeen, Jerry and Valeria Hadeen, and Debbie Thurman. Several nieces and nephews will not have the guidance and care of Don as they grow up. He will also be missed by all of those who shared his love of horses. Don was a good friend to many people.
Memorial services were conducted at Ava Family Funeral Home Chapel at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, with the Rev. Russell Sanders officiating. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice Compassus or St. Jude’s.
All arrangements and cremation are under the care and direction of Ava Family Funeral Home.