JASPER COUNTY - by Mike Lout/KJAS - Firefighters from as far away as Livingston turned out at 10:00 on Wednesday morning to pay their last respects to former Jasper Volunteer Firefighter Nick Matthews, who died on Saturday following a long battle with cancer.
The large snorkel and ladder trucks of the Livingston and Jasper Fire Departments joined together to hold an American Flag over Main Street, in front of First Baptist Church, in Downtown Jasper where services for Matthews were held.
Following a moving service, which was led by pastor Bobby South, those that attended filed out into Main Street where a fireman’s bell sounded 7-1, the signal for fire is out.
Following the bell and a final radio dispatch tone out for Matthews, red, white and blue balloons were released to celebrate the life of the man, who was known, loved and respected by all.
A native of Houston, Nicholas Seborn “Nick” Matthews moved to Jasper while still in school and after graduating from high school here, later attended Stephen F. Austin University, in Nacogdoches, where he earned a degree in business. Matthews later went to work in the family’s business, the Garland Smith Abstract Company and continued to operate the business following the death of his grandfather and brother in what is one of the oldest established businesses in East Texas.
Matthews served for well over 20 years in the Jasper Fire Department as not only a firefighter, but also Secretary and Treasurer.
Following the services at the church, a line off fire trucks guided everyone present to a reception was held at the Jasper Fire Department on Water Street, where a special treat of Matthews, Blue Bell ice cream was served as people gathered and looked at the many patches he had collected from fire departments all over the world.
The collection, which was stored away in boxes for many years, is displayed on all four walls of the main gathering room of the department.