Thomas Kyle Mathison was born June 23, 1926 to Christopher and Adelaide Sherwood Mathison. He attended public school in Wenatchee and was a member of the high school’s undefeated football team.
Mr. Mathison joined the United States Army in 1944, serving in the Pacific Theater. When World War II ended Mr. Mathsion was stationed in the Tokyo Bar with the rank of 1st Staff Sergeant. He returned home to the family farm on Stemilt Hill. In 1947 Mr. Mathison lost his father and from that day forward assisted his mother and brother with the family farm.
In 1950, France Lorraine Goldy and Tom Mathison were married, a strong union that lasted 58 years until the time of his death. Mr. & Mrs. Mathison raised three children in their family home on Stemilt Hill.
In the late-1950s diminishing grower returns prompted Mr. Mathison to seek improvements in fresh market fruit quality. He started a small packing shed next to his home and eventually began packing fruit for other concerned growers. In 1964, Mr. Mathison formed Stemilt Growers with a mission of ensuring a long-term financial return to the land. With his continued investment in research, development and forward-thinking management, the company achieved a leadership role in organic farming and sustainable business practices. Stemilt Growers became known globally for packing and marketing world-famous tree fruit.
Mr. Mathison was one of the founding members of the Washington State Tree Fruit Research Commission; he held positions on the Washington Apple Commission, Northwest Fruit Exporters and many other industry groups. Mr. Mathison’s dedication, talents and abilities earned him numerous awards during his career, including Cherry King in 1971, the Silver Apple Award in 1991, Apple Man of the Year in 1996, and Good Fruit Grower of the Year in 2002. He met with U.S. Presidents, state governors and many foreign ambassadors, to represent the tree fruit industry and its dynamics.
Mr. Mathison was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Wenatchee and enjoyed attending church with his children and extended family. Rather than speak about his faith, he quietly expressed it through his actions.
He was survived by his wife, Lorraine; sons, Robert (Cleta) and Kyle (Jan); daughter, Lavonne (Hans) van Someren Gréve; seven grandchildren, Aaron, Joyce, West, Tate, Susan, Lillian and Stephen; and six great-grandchildren, Adelaide, Gage, Finn, Jax, Rye and Thomas.
Mr. Mathison will be long remembered for his contributions to the community, not only as a major employer, but in his charity to schools, worthy events and those in need. He was instrumental in many innovations that earned Washington tree fruit industry’s world-class reputation.
Friends and family of Mr. Mathison initiated the scholarship fund at the time of his death, believing it a fitting tribute to his strong belief in education and its ability to advance individuals and communities.