Meredith Madsen Matlack died at her home in Los Alamos, New Mexico early on the morning of July 9, 2017. She was 95.
Meredith was born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma on Oct. 9, 1921, the firstborn child of Martin C. Madsen and Ethel Huffer. She met George Miller Matlack when they were chemistry majors at Grinnell College in Iowa, and they married in 1943. She worked as a blood technician to help him through his Ph.D. at the University of Iowa. They moved to Los Alamos in 1949 with two toddler daughters, Nancy and Christine; their sons Martin and Allyn were born a few years later.
Many will remember her as an artist who painted with ink, thread and fabric. She created beautiful women's clothing including coats, suits, party dresses and evening gowns. She specialized in embroidery and was a longtime member of the Pajarito chapter of the Embroiders' Guild of America. She was also a milliner, who studied the art of hat-making with her teacher, Helen Ove, and made dozens of stunning women's hats.
Her calligraphy skills were legendary; she was paid by the state of New Mexico to hand-letter certificates in the years before computers mastered the art. She was active in the Los Alamos Garden Club and co-edited its book on high-altitude gardening. She created and nurtured lovely gardens, and she hybridized iris. At Halloween, she transformed into the famously scary Witchie Poo, whose front doorstep attracted trick-or-treaters from all over Los Alamos. She was a fabulous grandmother, and made the best apple pie in the world.
Her fondness for fast sports cars is unforgettable. She told us kids that when she turned 50 she would celebrate by becoming a blonde and buying a Jaguar, and she made good on those promises. Her nickname at home was Mrs. Leadfoot, and she flew low in her candy-apple red 1967 XKE.
Meredith devoted decades to serving the Order of Rainbow for Girls at the local, state, and international levels. She was Mother Adviser to hundreds of young women who were members of Los Alamos Assembly #36, and also served for years on the State Rainbow Executive Committee. She was a Past Worthy Matron of the Los Alamos chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, and was active in the Los Alamos chapter of P.E.O.
She enjoyed all kinds of music and sang for years with the Los Alamos Choral Society. We remember her dancing and singing along to Beatles music in the Sixties as she dusted the living room.
She was a member of Trinity-on-the-Hill Episcopal Church and ministered healing with the Order of St. Luke.
She is survived by her sister, Arline Irey of Omaha, Nebraska; her children Nancy (Bryan) Williams, Providence, Utah; Chris Ward, Los Alamos; and Martin (Priscilla) Matlack, Cedar Crest; nieces and nephews Caerhl Irey, Bob Irey, Katherine Matlack Price, Anne Evans, Laura Matlack and John Matlack; also grandchildren J. Blaze Ward, Nick Matlack, Elisabeth Evans, Johannah Williams, Patrick Williams and Anna Blanch, and 15 great-grandchildren. Her husband George and a son, Allyn, as well as her parents, a 3-year-old brother and an infant sister, preceded her in death.
The family would like to offer special thanks to our sister Chris, who lived with Mom and cared for her lovingly as she grew frailer, and to Hospice and the Los Alamos Visiting Nurses for their assistance and care during the last few years. Special thanks to nurse Sande Cremer, dear companion Thea Medina, and chaplain Jenn Bartram.
A memorial and celebration of Meredith's life will be held Thursday, July 27, 10:30 a.m. at Trinity-on-the-Hill Episcopal Church in Los Alamos. Although she adored flowers, she asked that you consider donations in her memory to support the Los Alamos Visiting Nurses. The family of Merdith Matlack has entrusted their loved one to DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory of the Española Valley.