Donald Eldon Mattice, 89

Published 11:01 am Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Donald Eldon Mattice, 89



Donald Eldon Mattice, 89, of Austin, passed away peacefully on Thursday, February 27, 2014, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester surrounded by members of his immediate family at his bedside.

Don was born Feb. 11, 1925, to Christine and Albert Mattice in Minneapolis. He was the last to join the family, which included four siblings, Richard, Alberta, Laurie and Helen. The family weathered the depression better than most, as Don’s father was one of the few to have a stable job as a conductor with the Milwaukee Railroad. The family moved from Minneapolis to Mankato and then relocated to Austin. Don graduated in 1942 from Austin High School at the age of 17. With World War II raging, Don wanted to serve his country, so like many others during that time, he lied about his age and enlisted in the Army. Following basic training he was sent to the Pacific Theater where he served in New Guinea, the Philippines, and finally as part of General MacArthur’s occupying force in Japan following the Japanese surrender.

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After serving several years in the Pacific and prior to a state-side military assignment, Don was on leave in Austin when he met his future wife Lee (Leona). After a whirl-wind two week romance, they got married on March 1, 1946, by a Justice of the Peace in Sioux Falls, S.D. Don’s new bride accompanied him on his final assignment with the Army as a supply sergeant at a military detention center in Milwaukee, Wis. The young couple returned to Austin when his commitment with the Army ended.

In 1947, Don and Lee had two life changing experiences. Don started his life-long career in law enforcement by joining the Austin Police Department and the couple welcomed their first born, who was named in honor of Don’s eldest brother, Richard, who had previously died from severe injuries received in an accident. Don rose quickly in rank to captain and then was appointed inspector, as second in command of the Austin Police Department. After 24 years serving the people of Austin, he was appointed Chief of Police in Woodridge, Ill., in the western suburbs of Chicago. The municipality further tapped his experience and capabilities by promoting Don to Director of Public Safety, which gave him oversight over the police, fire, ambulance services and Civil Defense.

After retiring from public service, Don and Lee moved to various parts of the country to spend time with their children and grandchildren. The final stop in his work career took them to Los Angeles, where Don worked for the corporate security department of Hughes Aircraft Company for many years. After retiring for real this time, they moved to Las Vegas and lived there for many years. Don and Lee ultimately returned to Austin when their daughter, Cathy, was diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer. Don spent his final two years at Adams Nursing Home as a result of a fall which required hip surgery, from which he never fully regained the ability to walk.

Survivors include the love of his life, Lee; four sons, Richard (Connie), Craig (Melissa), James (DeDe), and Lynn (Deborah); nine grandchildren; fourteen great grandchildren.

He is preceded in death by his daughter, Cathy; his parents; all four siblings.

A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, 2014, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church with Pastor Karen Behling officiating. Friends may call one hour before the service at the church on Saturday. Private interment will be in Oakwood Cemetery with military rites by American Legion Post No. 91. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Don’s name to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 901 E Street NW, Suite 100, Attn:  Memorial Fund Office, Washington, D.C. 20004-2025, or through the Memorial’s internet site, Condolences may be left online at