Ken Matthys shares his love of shells with a friend shortly before his death in Oregon on May 12.
Ken Matthys shares his love of shells with a friend shortly before his death in Oregon on May 12.

Kenneth Charles Matthys, 81, longtime winter resident on Sanibel and Fort Myers passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family at his home in King City, Ore., on May 12, 2016.

Ken was born Nov. 22, 1935 to Charles and Marguerite Matthys in Fargo, N.D. He grew up on the family farm southwest of Fargo and took over running the farm at age 19 when his father died.

Ken and his wife Joyce moved to Keizer, Ore., with their five children in 1963. He worked for the Willamette Industries Albany Paper Mill for 30 years. However, he was best known by Keizer residents as a Marion County Deputy Sheriff. Ken joined the Marion County Sheriff Reserve Program in 1968 and in 1970 was authorized to operate a patrol vehicle alone, taking weekly assignments as a relief officer. He rose to the rank of Captain and under his guidance the Reserve Program grew to 79 officers. He often said that the Paper Mill paid the bills, but he got his job satisfaction from the 14 years he worked as a deputy.

Ken was an avid fisherman and hunter. After retiring, his search for fish and game changed to a search for seashells, a hobby that began after a chance visit to Sanibel in 1989. When he retired in 1993, there was no question as to where he and Joyce would spend their winters. They both quickly got involved with shell-related activities on the island. Ken was one of the original volunteers at the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. During the annual Shell Festival, the Shell Tent became his home away from home. He enjoyed the interaction with Sanibel visitors, especially the children who usually left the tent with a free shell in their pocket. Ken and Joyce began sharing their enthusiasm for the hobby of shell collecting on a higher level when they began working with the Road Scholar adult education tours that visit Sanibel. Ken was a member of the Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club and an avid competitor in the Sanibel Shell Shows.

Ken is survived by his wife of 59 years, Joyce; his five children, eight grandchildren, one great-grandchild and his sister Maxine Matthys of Fargo.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, July 23, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. at the Keizer Elks Lodge, Keizer, Ore. His ashes will be buried at the Mountain View Cemetery in Oregon City. When it was learned that there were no restrictions as to the burial container that could be used for his ashes, the choice was an obvious one – a large Florida horse conch, one of his favorite shells.