Retirement: Lt. Colonel Ward Matthews

Giving glory to God for “My Life Of Gratitude,” Lt. Colonel Ward Matthews was honored by a host of family and friends at a retirement celebration held at the Sarasota Corps. Romans 12 was the motor behind a review of the service given by Colonel Matthews as a Salvation Army Officer—particularly verse three, which is among his favorites: “I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me” (The Message).

Program participants included Lt. Colonel William Mockabee, Major Carolyn Gesner, Colonel Ralph Bukiewicz, Lt. Colonel Michele Matthews, Rick Martin, Bill Matthews, Ruth Matthews-Mikles, Lt. Colonel Carol Busroe, Marsha Colbert Walker, and Major Marion Durham.

The colonel’s children, Katie Matthews-White and Colter Matthews, presented the Certificate of Retirement and a prayer of dedication given by Lt. Colonel Dean Hinson. Flagbearers were Major Paul McFarland (U.S), Major Ray Cooper (Servants Of God Session), and Lt. Colonel Pam Hinson (Jamaica). Lt. Colonel Ron Busroe delivered the message.

Ward was born in 1960 as the middle child of Bill and Alfreda Matthews, spending his first 15 years in Birmingham, Alabama, where his parents were stationed at the Army’s Home and Hospital. The family moved to San Antonio, Texas in 1975, where the Majors Matthews were area leaders.

After Ward graduated from high school, with honors, he moved to Atlanta to attend Emory University. Initially, his major was in Physics, as his goal was to work as a mission specialist with NASA. He was even accepted into NASA’s internship program. Before he could follow through on this dream, he received a call from the Lord to become a Salvation Army Officer. He changed his major and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a double major in History and Religion.

He entered the training college in 1982 as a member of the Servants Of God Session; serving as session president and receiving the Commissioner’s Award.

Upon commissioning in 1984, Lieutenant Matthews was appointed corps officer in Danville, Kentucky. Another corps appointment in Bristol, Tennessee followed, and later was appointed divisional youth secretary for Arkansas-Oklahoma.

He became area commander for Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he reconnected with Michele Matthews. They began dating about the time he was appointed to territorial headquarters as assistant legal secretary in 1997. Michele followed to Atlanta soon afterward, entering the training college. The day after she was commissioned in June 1999, Ward and Michele were married.

Together they served as corps officers in Greensboro, North Carolina, followed by an appointment as area commanders in Charlotte.

In August 2005, they moved to Kingston, Jamaica, at the Caribbean Territorial Headquarters, where Major Ward served as the secretary for business administration for four years.

The Matthews returned to the U.S. and named area commanders for Dallas-Fort Worth. From there they went to territorial headquarters where he worked as legal secretary. During this time, Ward was selected as a delegate at the International College for Officers in London.

In January 2018, they moved to National Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, where Colonel Ward served as community relations and development secretary, as well as the national spokesperson for the Army. He was later diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and began experiencing other symptoms that resulted in a change of appointment to assistant to the national chief secretary.

In January 2021, the couple was once again on the move, this time to Sarasota as area commanders. However, Ward continued to experience issues that kept him from being able to work and was soon diagnosed with Lewy Body Disease. This diagnosis led to being placed on sick leave and ultimately, retirement.

Even though these last few years have been difficult, Ward continues to embrace a life of gratitude. He is thankful for all that God has given him and blessed him with and he plans to continue giving thanks as long as he is able.

—Major Frank Duracher