James C. Van Matre

James C. Van Matre

James C. VanMatre (Age 85) of Spokane Valley, Washington, passed away peacefully at Riverview Care Center in the early morning of April 24, 2018.

He was born in Freeport, Illinois on February 6, 1933 to Harold and Lura Van Matre and went by the name “Jim” to his family and friends, “Grandpa” to his eight grandchildren and “GG” to his nine great-grandchildren.

Jim grew up in Monroe, Wisconsin and went to school there through his freshman year. His parents then moved Jim and his sister, Doris, to Elk, Washington in the summer of 1948 where he attended Riverside High School in Chattaroy. There he excelled in football, basketball and track. It was also there that he met the love of his life, Lila Thompson.

They married right out of high school on June 2, 1951. Influenced by his high school football coach, Jim enrolled in at EWSC (Eastern Washington State College) majoring in Education. It was at Eastern they began raising a family (eventually three sons and one daughter).

After graduation, he began his career in teaching, coaching and administration in Helix, Oregon, Washtucna, Washington, St. John, Washington and finally, Medical Lake, Washington where Jim was Principal at Medical Lake High School, Medical Lake Elementary School, Assistant Superintendent and ended his career as Superintendent of the Medical Lake School District. Jim had many achievements during his career. Some of the most notable were: President of AWSP (Association of Washington School Principals) and Washington State Distinguished Principal Award in 1985 where he and 49 other Principals throughout the United States were recognized at the White House by President Ronald Reagan.

On a civic note, he was a founding member of Medical Lake Lions Club and an active member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Medical Lake. Jim retired in 1992 after which he and Lila took numerous RV trips throughout the United States and traveled the world. He especially enjoyed family gatherings at their cabin on Newman Lake.

Jim is survived by his wife of 66 years, Lila, children, Mike (Gayle), Chuck (Brenda), David (Marty) and Vicki (Evan), grandchildren and great-grandchildren and a brother-in-law, Jim Thompson, as well as several nephews and nieces.

Per Jim’s wishes there will be no formal service. The family will have a private memorial at their lake cabin later this summer.

Condolences can be sent to Riverview Terrace, 1801 E. Upriver Dr. Spokane, WA 99207. Memorial gifts can be made to Medical Lake School District’s “Dollars for Scholars” PO Box 672 Medical Lake, WA 99022 (in Jim’s name) or Kindred Hospice, 22820 Appleway Ave. Suite A Liberty Lake, WA 99019.