FLORENCE — Our beloved father, Dr. Oliver Pharr Matthews Jr., died on Thursday May 12, 2022. Born in Gastonia, NC on July 15, 1946, he devoted his entire life to his family and patients.
Dr. Matthews was preceded in death by his parents, Oliver Sr. and Ruby Matthews, and his half brother, Jack Windley. He is survived by his sister, Janie Garrett of Orlando, FL; his sister-in-law, Elaine Windley of Battleboro, NC; and his sons, Robin Matthews (Hailey Williams Matthews), Oliver III (Courtney Reinke Matthews), Randall Matthews (Julia Glichrist Matthews), all of Florence, AL; three nieces, two nephews, and five grandchildren - Lizzy (17), Paul (11), Julietta (8), Ollie IV (3), and Mary (18 months).
Dr. Matthews, known to many as “Buddy”, “Dr. Ollie”, or simply “OPM”, spent his childhood in Orlando, FL. His father, Oliver P. Matthews Sr., owned a pharmacy adjacent to the medical center. Dad shared stories of spending time at the ice cream counter and curiously watching the hospital staff through the window. This began to shape his desire to practice medicine. He lost both his parents as a child and was raised by his sister, Janie Garrett, and a host of neighborhood families. It is in Orlando where he developed a strong passion for sports like water skiing, baseball, and fishing. He often told stories of skiing on a wooden paddle or pitching in the “big game”.
Dr. Matthews attended Boone High School in Orlando, FL, class of ‘64. He then moved to Atlanta, GA to attend Emory University. He spent three years as an undergraduate and was accepted early into Emory University School of Medicine class of ’71. He completed his internal medicine residency at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, and cardiology fellowship at Emory. Upon completion of his fellowship he joined the Navy in Norfolk, VA to practice Cardiology at Portsmouth Naval Hospital where he served as a Lieutenant Commander for four years.
Dr. Matthews began practicing Cardiology in the Shoals in 1979 through 2016, when he transitioned to the role as Chief Medical Officer at ECM/North Alabama Medical Center. As an Interventional Cardiologist he played an integral role in developing the areas first cath and echo labs. Due to his dedication the area now boasts a Cardiology service with 10+ physicians and state of the art treatments. Throughout his career he treated thousands of patients and saved countless others. He is widely known among his colleagues as having always demonstrated impeccable judgement and consideration. He exemplified exquisite penmanship that was appreciated by all. He was also known by those he worked with as a superb teacher - always, and with an unassuming air, taking the time to instruct. Stories are told of him handing out textbooks or developing worksheets/tests for the staff, all with one goal - the enhancement of patient care. He was universally respected and loved from housekeeping to administration, always treating people respectfully.
Although Dr. Matthews was very involved with the hospital and his patients, his true passion was his children. As a full time working single dad, he never missed a game or event. All of his limited spare time was spent with his boys, instilling in them his passion for sports and education. He always made time to teach his children to respect others, exemplify loyalty, and to have a strong work ethic.
In his later years, Dad loved his Irish Setter dogs (sometimes as many as eight at once!), spending time with his kids and grandkids, enjoying the outdoors, reading medical journals, watching Alabama football (Roll Tide!), and Braves baseball (Go Braves!).
A private family service is scheduled for a later date. In lieu of flowers or gifts, please consider donating to the American Heart Association at http://www.heart.org or by mail at AHA P.O. Box 840692, Dallas, TX 75284-0692.
An online guest book may be signed at greenviewmemorial.com.