In Memory: James Mattoon

Campus memorial services are scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Jan. 27 on the third floor of the Kraemer Family Library for  James Mattoon, professor emeritus, Department of Biology. A family and community memorial service was Dec. 29  at First Presbyterian Church, Colorado Springs. Dr. Mattoon died Dec. 24 in Loveland at age 80. He was professor of biology from 1979 to 2000 and also directed the UCCS Biotechnology Center.

His obituary, as published in the Colorado Springs Gazette, follows.

Dr. James R. (Jim) Mattoon

Dr. James R. (Jim) Mattoon, 80, of Loveland and formerly Colorado Springs, passed away early Friday morning, December 24, 2010 at the Loveland Good Samaritan Village Health Care in Loveland, Colorado. Jim was born December 9, 1930 in Loveland, Colorado, the fourth child of Maxwell Mattoon and Margaret Scilley Mattoon. He grew up in Loveland and attended schools there. He attended Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University) and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1953, and married Martha Jean McKissick on June 16, l953. He received his Masters of Science and PhD degrees from the University of Wisconsin in biochemistry and taught at the University of Nebraska, the Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, Maryland, and moved to Colorado Springs in 1979 to teach at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, from where he retired. Jim lived in both Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro where he did further research and taught. He lectured in many places in the world, often in the local language, and supervised many foreign graduated students and post doctoral students. He was a noted researcher using yeast as the basis of his research. At the time of his retirement, he was teaching in the Microbiology and Genetics department of CU, Colorado Springs. He was an accomplished pianist and tenor soloist in his younger years. He is survived by a son, Thomas Mattoon of Tustin, California, a daughter Jean Mattoon Fassler and husband Joe of Colorado Springs, one grandson, Travis Mattoon of Colorado Springs, a sister, Patricia Waltermire and husband Kent of Longmont, Colorado, and many nephews and nieces. He was preceded in death by his wife, Martha, his parents, two brothers, a sister, and two nephews. Services will be held at the First Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs, Wednesday, December 29, 10:00 AM. The church is located on Bijou between Nevada and Weber. Memorial gifts may be sent to University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Biotechnology Center, 1420 Austin Bluffs Pkwy, Colorado Springs, CO 80918 which he and Martha established.


9 Comments on In Memory: James Mattoon

  1. It was an honor to consider Jim a friend and colleague. I was very sorry to learn of his death.
    Tim Tregarthen, Economics

  2. I worked with Dr. Mattoon for several years on the Rocky Mountain Microbrewing Symposium – an event that he loved! He was a wonderful man and was absolutely devoted to his family. He will be greatly missed.

  3. I wish to extend my condolences to the family and friends of Dr. James Mattoon. He was a beloved friend and mentor who will be truly missed. My name is Page Baluch (Allen) and I was in the lab of Dr. Mattoon, employed as a work study student from 1983-1988 at UCCS. My main job was to take care of his extensive yeast culture collection which at that time had just short of 1,300 different strains that had to be transferred to new media every six months or sooner. From that time I went on to having a family with four great kids and receiving a PhD from Arizona State University in Cellular and Developmental Biology. Through the years I have kept in touch with Dr. Mattoon so he would know how I was making my way through academia. He has had a tremendous influence in my life and I still list him as an undergraduate research mentor on my CV. Ironically, I too have an established Cell Biotechnology course at ASU that I continue to develop through my ongoing training in microscopy, management of the ASU W.M. Keck Bioimaging Facility and in collaboration with researchers from places such as Cold Springs Harbor Labs. Dr. James Mattoon will be missed but not forgotten as his mentoring continues on through his students.

  4. Hi all,

    I had the privilege of working closely with Jim on many projects over the past 15 years or so. He was extremely enthusiastic in pursuing cross-disciplinary research and scholarly activities. He started learning computer programming a few years ago because he wanted to work in the field of bioinformatics. He was instrumental in starting the Bioinformatics and Biotechnology Symposium (BIOT: on our campus 8 years ago; I worked closely with him on this project.

    Jim was a true scholar. He was always a perfect gentleman. He was always there to mentor me when I sought advice and guidance. He was a great friend.

    May his soul rest in peace! We will miss him greatly.

    Jugal Kalita
    Professor, Computer Science

  5. Dear Jean and Thomas
    Please accept my condolences. I am deeply sorry. You had wonderful parents. I met Jim for the first time in Argentina in 1987 and few months later I was at your parents’ house with my family. Indeed I’ve been at their house more than once and we had the pleasure to be with Martha and Jim in Villa Gessel, Argentina, when they were celebrating 25 years of marriage. Jim gave several courses at the University of Buenos Aires, in Argentina, so we took advantage of those situations to have him at home. We have several nice memories of Martha and Jim, both in the USA and in Argentina.

    I had the pleasure to know you and your son Travis, but I was not lucky to meet you, Thomas. Hope we contact some day.

    Warm regards,
    Alberto Acevedo and family

  6. Hello All,

    I had the pleasure of working with Jim (1) during the life of the Colorado Biotechnology Roundtable from 1984-1998, where he was a frequent attender and occasional speaker, journeying to Denver from Colorado Springs to monthly meetings which started at 7 am and ended at 8:30 am, (2) during our mutual involvement with the biotechnology programs of the Colorado Advanced Technology Institute from 1988 to 1996, where he was frequent attender at CATI programs in Boulder, Ft. Collins and Denver and an organizer of many CATI programs at UCCS, and (3) during the founding and early years of the Microbrewing Symposium at UCCS, where he allowed a business guy who loves beers (and yeasts) to speak to the masses from time to time on subjects unrelated to brewing. Through it all he was ever the gentleman and the raconteur and a pleasure with which to be associated. He had an awesome smile and I rarely saw him ‘down’. It is a privilege for me to have known and worked with him. John

  7. I first met Dr. Mattoon in the genetics class he taught in 1989. He invited me to work in his lab, which was a center not just of biotechnology, but of international study. Our Saturday lab meetings promised exotic food and the earnest effort needed to hear presentations through heavy accents. It was thrilling to me, as I could see it was to Dr. Mattoon. He’d sometimes rush into the lab, almost bursting with the news of a student who’d soon be joining us from _________. I was glad to be part of that place.

    And you could not be a part of it without becoming friends of the family. We all got plates of Martha’s Christmas cookies, we all went to the cabin, and we all knew Kumro.

    I will miss Dr. Mattoon, who was so very kind to me, who brought me along without my even knowing he was doing it, and celebrated my successes as if they were his own. He was like a second father, really.

    We missed our last visit with him by a day. My husband, my child and I were on our way from Wisconsin to see him before Christmas when we learned he had entered a coma the day before. So I must remember his voice from the month prior, when we’d made plans by phone: an excited voice, full of news, always joshing. As always. I’ll remember him.

  8. On the afternoon of Thursday, January 27, about 50 members of the CU-Colorado Springs campus came together in the third floor apse of the Kraemer Family Library to share memories and reflections on the life and career of Jim Mattoon. The gathering was sponsored by Chancellor Pam Shockley and hosted by Provost Peg Bacon. After the Chancellor’s opening remarks, I, along with numerous other folks, shared.

    Jim was a colleague and friend. In 1982, the biology department consisted of the late Bob Catlett as Chairman, Professor Don Van Horn, Professor Jim Eley, Jim and me. Jim had joined the department three years earlier, and, as a Colorado native, it was a coming-home for Jim, back to the state and to the mountains that he loved so much. However, I don’t think that was the main reason Jim came to UCCS. Jim left a successful career at research intensive institutions, but like most of us who work here, Jim was a firm believer in the liberal arts undergraduate education in which students are introduced to the breadth of the academy as well as to the depths of the various disciplines. Jim also believed in the three core activities of the professoriate – teaching, research and service. Jim did not view these as non-overlapping magesteria, or even as complementary activities, but rather as integrated functions that strengthened one another. Jim believed that research is integral to teaching, and was among the first to emphasize the importance of research at UCCS, including undergraduates as active participants.

    As news of Jim’s passing spread through the UCCS community, I heard from several of our former biology students, each of whom interestingly had continued their educations to receive either an MD or PhD. They appreciated Jim’s teaching, commenting that he was a difficult but fair professor who would offer as much assistance as necessary to help them in the classroom; they appreciated his fervor for research that included them as a part of his research team; and they very much appreciated Jim as a mentor – someone who was interested not only in their scholarly development but also in their growth and maturity as individuals.

    Among the many things that I appreciated about Jim, there are three that I will briefly mention: commitment, passion, and vision.

    Commitment – When one spoke of Jim, it often became Jim and Martha. They were truly a team, with a shared commitment to UCCS [I believe that Martha helped found Curiosity Unlimited]; to their family, son Tom and daughter Jean, and grandson Travis who was surely the apple of their eye; to their church community; and to the greater Colorado Springs community.

    Passion – When Jim was committed to something, he was also enthusiastic and passionate about his commitment. In addition to the commitments mentioned, Jim was also committed to honesty, fairness and justice, and if he believed that there was dishonesty, unfairness or injustice, his passion would become visible. Slowly his neck would begin to turn pink, and then the coloring would move to his face to become a crimson red, and the only way I can describe this would be “volcanic.” As the red intensified, there would soon be an eruption of words, sometimes accompanied by a fist-slam on the desk or a stomping of the foot. But soon afterward, the color would disappear, his point would be well-taken, and Jim would return to a calmer state.

    Vision – When Jim arrived at UCCS in 1979, this campus was a dinghy tenuously and loosely tethered to the Flagship Campus in Boulder; it was Cragmoor, the Sanitarium, the extension campus. But Jim saw much potential, not to grow into a mini-CU-Boulder, but to establish its own identity. Part of that identity was a strong research program. Jim had the audacity to propose and ultimately establish a Biotechnology Center outside of the Boulder city limits. Jim was a leader and champion of research and scholarly work and for including undergraduates in these activities. I believe Jim was very proud of the UCCS of 2010 compared to the UCCS of 1979. We should always remember the many contributions that Jim and Martha made to this campus, and to the students, faculty and staff. Nos vemos amigo and godspeed.

  9. I am saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. Mattoon. I was priveleged to be an undergraduate in his lab in 1993 and 1994. He was a great influence in my life, and although it was ten years before I continued my career in academia, I give him a great deal of credit for his encouragement and influence which ultimately led to me pursuing my PhD. He always had high standards and pushed his students to exceed them. As I journey on and continue my career, I will always remember the influence he had on me. I hope that I can make half of that contribution towards the lives of my future students. RIP Dr. Mattoon, you will be missed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.