Frank Mathis


Frank Mathis, 80, of Sylva, N.C., left his Earthly home to be with his Father on Sunday, April 19, 2020. He was the son of the late Rev. Dillard and Minnie (Mills) Mathis. 

Frank was born, raised, and resided in Jackson County. He served in the U.S. Army and worked at Dayco International in Haywood County for nearly 32 years. He was a member of Buff Creek Baptist Church in Sylva, N.C.

He is survived by his wife, Wilma “Mae” Hall Mathis; son, Timothy (Heather) Mathis; two grandsons, Josh (Brooke) Mathis, Derek (Allison) Mathis; one great-granddaughter, Josie; two siblings, Norma Jean Grooms and Lee Mathis; sister-in-law, Darla (of Cecil); and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings, Mayebelle (Ted) Stephens, Cecil Mathis and two infant sisters.

Pallbearers will be Tim Mathis, Josh Mathis, Derek Mathis, Danny Stephens, Ronnie Mathis and Kyle Mathis. Honorary pallbearers are B.T. Greene and the employees of AAA Greene Brothers Well Drilling.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to United Christian Ministries of Sylva.

The family will hold a private burial service and will hold a memorial service at a later date. Rev. Kent Lowdermilk will be officiating.


(Written by grandsons, Josh and Derek)

For those who knew Papaw, they knew he was a saint. He always had a smile. He never met a stranger. He was always the first to say, “Hello.” And this wasn’t just a “superficial personality,” so to speak; this was who he was to his core. He was the kindest person you’d ever known. He was the most sincere and selfless person you’d ever meet.

Papaw was a man who always loved. From the moment you knew him, you would know that his wife, or our Mamaw, was the biggest part of his world. Every day, Papaw selflessly put her needs before his own. Even throughout his last few months, his primary mission was to make sure Mamaw was OK.

His son, Tim, was another large part of his world. Papaw would do anything for dad, and he was always the one to lend a helping hand in whatever project was going on. Anytime something was happening, he was there. After dad got married to Heather, our mom, dad became second (not really, but mom was the new favorite). But that didn’t last for long because Papaw was introduced to the world of being a grandparent.

When Josh was brought into the world, Papaw became a Papaw, and he wore his title proudly. After Derek was born, Papaw’s life would never be the same. We were clearly the new favorites of the family, and the man would stop at nothing to do whatever he could do for us. Papaw made the best milkshakes, built the best waterslides, and always (literally always) gave us whatever we wanted. One would say we were spoiled, but we would just say we were loved.

Papaw was at every single awards ceremony growing up in elementary school, and he was always the first to call us when we got our report cards to tell us he was proud of us. He would pick us up from school every single Friday, with a sandwich for each of us, and a drink, because he knew we’d be hungry. He always made the best sandwiches (a peanut butter and banana sandwich for Derek, and a tomato and mayonnaise sandwich for Josh).

Any time we were out in public, you could count on Papaw running into someone he knew. And even though we didn’t know them, they knew us, because he talked about his grandsons ceaselessly. He was the proudest Papaw anyone could ever have. 

But along came Brooke, Josh’s wife, and eventually Allison, Derek’s fiancé. Papaw immediately welcomed them into his home, and they always felt like family from day one. He’d tell them stories of his childhood and tell them stories of Josh and Derek as well. He always made sure their bellies were full and their hearts were happy (you actually cannot leave their house without getting asked if you want anything to eat, at least 10 times).

And a sweetness of a baby, Josie, Josh and Brooke’s daughter, came along and made Papaw a great-grandfather. If you thought Papaw talked about Josh and Derek a lot, you should see how much he talked about Josie. Josie was the new center of attention, and Papaw was surely proud of her. He loved to give her some toys to play with, a smile and a happy wave. 

To Papaw, family was everything. That was his priority. Everything else fell second to his people. And that’s exactly how he wanted it.

The world may never be the same, but it was a brighter place because of the impact Papaw made on this universe. But because of his faith in Jesus, we have the confidence that we can see him again in heaven. I’m sure he’s already telling everyone he meets about his family, and he’s catching up with siblings and parents, grandparents and Jesus too. But until that day, we will always be proud to be here on this Earth and call Frank Mathis our Papaw.