Adam Bernstein - Published: January 23, 2011 The Washington Post
John L. Matthews, 91, a Washington area builder who specialized in contemporary-style
houses, died Dec. 22 at his home in Bethesda of atherosclerotic cerebrovascular
The death was confirmed by his wife, Barbara Matthews.
Mr. Matthews developed houses in Montgomery County’s Potomac Overlook, Mohican
Hills and Carderock neighborhoods. The buildings often accentuated big windows for
ample light and were designed to conform with the landscape, his family said. He retired
about a decade ago.
Mr. Matthews was a member of the Sycamore Island Club, a private club for canoeists
based on an island in the Potomac River near Glen Echo. The island is accessible by a
pedestrian ferry that Mr. Matthews designed. As captain of the club for many years, he
helped preserve the property and build needed structures.
John Lee Matthews was born in Akron, Ohio, and raised mostly in Washington. He
graduated from Western High School (1939) and attended Catholic University. During
World War II, he served in the Army in Italy, and his decorations included the Bronze Star
His first wife, the former Mary Jean O’Leary, whom he married in 1948, died in 1987.
Survivors include his wife of 22 years, Barbara Cannon Matthews of Bethesda; five
children from his first marriage, Mary Ann Millett of Brookmont, Md., John E. Matthews of
Boyds, and Robert Matthews, Susan Freeburn and Peggy Estabrook, all of Kensington;
a sister; a brother; 11 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.