Alex Mathew, 6/24/1941 - 10/30/2019

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Alex Mathews was born June 24, 1941 in Manhattan, New York to Santos and Carmela Mathews. His father was Puerto Rican and his mother Italian. Alex dropped out of high school and earned his GED after enlisting in the Air Force in 1964. He served two tours in Turkey separated by a tour in Germany. While in Turkey he met a Turkish woman—Tulin—who married him in 1966 on the condition that he make use of his fine mind by attending college. Alex took courses through the military’s program with University of Maryland University College. When he was discharged from the Air Force in 1968, he and Tulin moved to College Park, Maryland where Alex entered the Honors Program at the University of Maryland. He and Tulin realized that marriage was not the right relationship for them, as Alex was gay. They separated in 1971, but their relationship continued for the rest of Alex’s life. He remained part of her family and was a loving and beloved uncle to Tulin’s children from her subsequent marriage to Stephen Levitas--with whom Alex shared a passion for opera.

Alex graduated from the University of Maryland in 1974 with an Honors Degree in history. He worked for the Library of Congress in the personnel office for almost two decades and then worked for Catholic University in the School of Library and Information Science.

Alex bought a house on Monroe Street in Brookland and cultivated a large garden and many friendships. He partnered with Arnold Belfontaine in 1972 for several years, and the two remained close even after Arnie moved to California. Alex’s subsequent long-term partner, Teddy Knecht, died of AIDS in the early 1990s.

Alex, who had been raised Pentecostal, began attending Friends Meeting of Washington in the 1990s. He was a faithful attender and became a member in May of 2004. He served for many years on the board of School for Friends and brought many friends to their fund-raising auctions. Alex also clerked the Hospitality Committee for six years and instigated interesting conversations in the kitchen most Sundays. He brought his wondrous French bread to many  meeting events.

In 2001, a friend from meeting told Alex about her work as a DC tour guide. He thought it sounded like a fascinating job, and he turned out to be a fascinating tour guide. Alex especially loved boarding a bus full of high school students and introducing them to his historic city. He got certification as a New York City tour guide so he could stay with groups that were touring both cities.

Alex was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013. He survived extensive surgery and got back to guiding tours. Throughout his life he shared his many gifts—enlivening history, gardening, and baking French bread—with his many friends. Friendship was the largest of his gifts. Alex died October 30, 2019. 

provided devoted care to a cat that had belonged to a deceased Friend.