Dave Mattison battled cancer once before.
He was diagnosed with bone cancer 16 years ago and beat it.
When the news came in September 2019 of a diagnosis of glioblastoma (aka brain cancer), the same mentality resurfaced.
“He was positive the entire way,” his son Mike stated. “He was consistently talking like he was going to be around.”
Mike said the family was told after diagnosis; the average life expectancy was 15 months. Dave made it 22 before passing away July 19 at the age of 67.
“Dave was a great friend and family man,” said friend Tom Hawley. “We go back a long ways and spent a lot of time together. He was a lot of fun to spend time with.”
Mattison spent his life in Baldwin, who after a couple of years after high school graduation, joined his father Wilbur at the Baldwin Insurance Agency.
He would spend the next 40-plus years at the business before turning it over to Mike and his subsequent diagnosis.
“He’s why I’m here,” Mike said. “I was inspired to follow in his footsteps.”
The insurance business only touches the surface Mattison made to the Baldwin community. He was a longtime member on the Board of Directors for Baldwin Telecom (now Lightstream) and the First Bank of Baldwin. He also served on the boards for Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Baldwin Senior Center and the Baldwin Chamber of Commerce.
“Dave was a good friend,” said Larry Knegendorf, longtime general manager of Baldwin Telecom. “He was a very positive person, who enjoyed life and enjoyed people.”
Dennis Mathison served with Mattison on the Telecom/Lightstream board for 25 years. The two even became co-owners in 2008 when Baldwin Insurance Agency merged with Mathison’s Woodville Insurance Agency to form Baldwin-Woodville Insurance Services.
“When I think of Dave, I think of honesty and integrity,” Mathison explained. “He had a way of calming things down.”
Mathison went on to say over their time as business partners, “it couldn’t have worked out better. Dave and I never had a problem.”
Love of spiders
One would think collecting spider would not be a popular hobby.
Mattison proved different.
As Mike stated, Dave acquired his first one in the 1970s and the interest started.
“By the 2000s, his spider habit had gone ballistic,” Mike continued. He estimated his father collected 100 spiders in the family basement, which his mom, Deborah, put up with it.
“They were out of sight, out of mind to her,” Mike concluded.
He also talked about what his father saw as the positives.
“Spiders don’t have to go for a walk and you’ll only have to feed them once a month,” he said.
He also remembers over the years on the Halloween Trick or Treat event, hundreds to maybe thousands of kids touching the tarantulas Dave had stored in the office.
Knegendorf recalled the story he was at a state convention in Lake Geneva in which Mattison also appeared as he was on the Telecom Board. Mattison left for a few days to go to Chicago for a tarantula show but returned. Knegendorf laughed telling the story as hotel management were trying to figure out which room, which turned to be Mattison’s, the tarantulas had gotten loose in and scaring the staff.
Love of sports
Added Hawley: “Dave had great hand-eye coordination and was a good athlete. From golf to foosball to pool to ping pong he was hard to beat. In fact, I never beat him in any game.”
According to his obituary, he was an avid sports fan, but loved competition more.
“He was excellent at cards, dice and board games,” the obituary said. “…He would turn off the televised professionals for an active competition in a second.”
He is survived by Deborah, three sons, two grandchildren and two sisters.
A celebration of his life is scheduled from 1-5 p.m., July 31 at Gethsemane Lutheran Church, with the service to start at 5 p.m. Interment will be in the Baldwin Cemetery at a later date.