Stephen H. Matheson, 71, of Simsbury, Connecticut and Westerly, Rhode Island died unexpectedly on May 30, 2018 at the UCONN Medical Center, surrounded by family and friends. Born in Astoria, New York to the late Alfred and Dorothy Matheson, Steve grew up in Huntington, New York, and graduated from Huntington High School. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Karen Sammis Matheson, also from Huntington; brothers Curt (Rosemary) and Al (Pat ) Matheson, sister, Karen (Kathy Lepp) Matheson; two daughters, Amy (Flo) Fougerouse, Julie (Billy) Gills; and 4 grandchildren, Will and Kate Gills, JP and Emily Fougerouse, brother-in-law Neil Sammis (Lynne Aldrich) 3 nieces: Kelly, Jamie and Mackenzie and 3 nephews: Robert, Scott and Eric; 5 great-nieces and 1 great-nephew; well-loved new puppy, Lily and pesky kitty, Max.
Steve was a man of many talents coupled with great humility. He seemed genuinely surprised by his long string of life successes, admitting his amazement at his appointment to the United States Naval Academy and later his acceptance to Harvard Business School. Once launched at both of these institutions he soldiered on with dogged determination to graduate from both, which he did. It wasn’t until a year ago that Karen learned that he graduated in the top 10 percent of his USNA class, with the highest honor in the English Department and with honors from The B School. B School friends will recall he called himself Low-Pass Matheson. Which, turns out, wasn’t true at all. His signature sense of humor bested us all at times.
After graduation from the Naval Academy Steve served aboard the aircraft carrier, the USS Yorktown and was honored the day, in 1968, the ship’s crew picked up the returning Apollo 8 space craft, meeting Astronauts Borman, Lovell and Anders.
Successes in business quickly followed graduation from Harvard but in a social setting he would never mention that he was President of CIGNA Healthplan, or later, President of Travelers Health Company and then President of United Healthcare Insurance Division. He’d simply say he worked in healthcare industries.
Far surpassing any accomplishment in business or education was the overwhelming joy and pride he had in his family. The most startling news he ever received was that he was the father of identical twin girls, that second wee one, arriving two minutes after the first was completely unexpected. Amy and Julie’s string of accomplishments, not the least of which was marrying two extraordinary men and producing four of the greatest grandchildren in the world, as he would tell you, was the most cherished part of his life.
Steve’s love of family extended always to include his two brothers, sister and their spouses, great playmates, all, beginning with Curt and Steve playing soldiers with cut-out pieces of cardboard on their bedroom floor and continuing through his whole life with extended family trips and parties (especially Army-Navy Football game gatherings - GO NAVY!) Karen and Steve enjoyed traveling with family and friends, visiting Europe many times, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, South America, Canada, Mexico and the islands. Steve drove a total of 35,000 miles in their 30-foot motor home as they explored every corner of the United States.
Steve’s natural athletic ability, love of games and sports of all kinds made him a great but always fair competitor. Winning was never as important as playing the game. He was accomplished at windsurfing, waterskiing, biking, hiking, tennis, rowing, and golf and followed spectator football, basketball, baseball, wrestling and, most passionately, ALL Navy sports. Most recently he cheered and howled at the grandchildren’s naturally inherited athletic skills: Will Gills on the baseball pitching mound, the field and at bat as well as prowess at soccer and basketball; at JP Fougerouse’s outstanding speed and agility on the soccer and lacrosse fields; at Kate Gill’s new found passion and talent on the softball pitching mound, and the soccer field and at the news that his little dancer, Emily Fougerouse was also named to the Junior Olympics Gymnastics team.
A passionate reader, particularly of history and “good trash” Steve usually had 4 books going at once, plus at least one crossword puzzle.
Steve was elected to the Board of Directors of the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation in Bloomfield, Connecticut in conjunction with Karen and Steve’s raising of a puppy for the organization.
“Owen” didn’t make the cut but Steve became a dedicated board member, and served as the first non-founder Chairman. In May 2015 he was elected the first-ever Director Emeritus.
There are no calling hours. A service of love and remembrance will be held at the Simsbury United Methodist Church, 799 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury, Connecticut on Thursday, June 7, 2018 at 10:00 am followed by burial with military honors at the Simsbury Cemetery. A reception will be held at Hopmeadow Country Club, Firetown Road, Simsbury.
In lieu of flowers the family would welcome donations to the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, Steve Matheson Memorial Fund, 103 Vision Way, Bloomfield, CT 06002 or to The United States Naval Academy Foundation, Athletic Department, Annapolis, MD. Please visit “Steve’s Book of Memories” at www.vincentfuneralhome.com for online condolences.
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