Larry Julius Matten, 72, of Missoula, passed away at his home on Friday, July 19th, 2019.
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He was born on January 19th, 1947 in Cloquet, MN to Julius and Florence Matten. Larry spent his childhood growing up in northern Minnesota, fishing and ice skating. He attended Wrenshall High School where he was involved in football and track but excelled at basketball, earning All-American honors in 1965. During his senior year, he went on a recruiting trip to the University of Minnesota Duluth. The Bulldogs coincidentally played the University of Montana during his visit, and his love of the Griz began. In 1967, during the peak of the Vietnam War, he enlisted in the US Navy and spent the majority of his service aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Oriskany.
Upon discharge from the Navy, he married Jeannie Baker, had his first daughter Jeri Lynn, and moved to the Bitterroot Valley where he later had his son Brian. Larry began a 38-year career at the pulp mill in Frenchtown, MT. After his first marriage ended, he met his current wife Naomi at a Solo Stars Square Dance. Larry and Naomi got married in Missoula, in 1980, where they had their children Eric and Rachel.
There were countless memorable family outings including camping, cross country road trips, and vacations. Larry was an avid sports fan. His favorite teams were the Vikings, Lakers, and the University of Montana Grizzlies.
Larry was a loving husband, brother, father and grandfather. His sense of humor and smile would light up the room, he made new friends easily and never met a beer he didn’t like. He was a father figure to many, beyond his own children. Larry could often be seen around town on Friday afternoons with his best friend and brother-in-law, Bob Lentz. He will be remembered for his meticulous lawn, ever-present denim jacket and easy laugh.
After retirement, Larry became actively involved as a member of the Miller Boys, a group of retired volunteers that handle the maintenance at the church he attended. For the past ten years, Larry was also an active member of the VFW Post 209 and served as the Commander of the Honor Guard, performing military honors for over 100 fallen veterans each year. He was the contact for area funeral homes, recruiting and organizing honor guard members, acquiring uniforms, transporting rifles, calling commands, and delivering spent shells to families.
Survivors include his wife Naomi, sons Brian (wife Katie) and Eric (wife Claire) and daughters Jeri and Rachel (husband Matt), and sisters Sheila Rudnicki, Patt Fornshell, Sandra Peterson, and brother Randy.
He will be sorely missed by his grandchildren, Cassidy, Kayden, Ayden, Archer, Quinn, Logan, Berkeley and Bode.
Memorial services will be on Monday, July 29th, at 11:00am at First Lutheran Church, 2808 South Ave West, followed by Commitment Services at the Western Montana Cemetery with military honors.
Larry would be honored if you considered a memorial donation to VFW Post 209. If you are a veteran that served overseas, please consider honoring your comrades by joining the honor guard.