John S. Mattox

John S. Mattox, recipient of the 2016 Austin C. Furbee Award.

Photo courtesy of: Ohio University Eastern Campus

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John S. Mattox to receive Austin C. Furbee Award


The Eastern Ohio Alumni Chapter of Ohio University has chosen John S. Mattox as the 2016 Austin C. Furbee Award honoree, in recognition of his dedication and contribution to Ohio University and the community. An award dinner will be held in his honor on Wednesday, May 18, at 7 p.m. at Belmont Hills Country Club in St. Clairsville. A reception will precede the award dinner at 6:30 p.m. 
 
Known for his affable personality, Mattox is a long-time member of the Ohio University Eastern Campus Coordinating Council, co-chair of the university's African American Cultural Committee, and has been a vital contributor to the Department of African American Studies' African American Presence in the Ohio River Valley research project. The grant-funded multimedia project documented the contributions of people of color to the history and development of Appalachia. He also funds an annual non-restricted $500 scholarship to the Eastern Campus.
 
A native of Raleigh, N.C., and an Air Force veteran, Mattox has been active in dozens of local, and national organizations since moving to his late wife, Rosalind's, hometown of Flushing in 1973. In fact, the Underground Railroad Museum shares its building with A Special Wish Foundation, an organization for which Mattox serves as national chairperson and National Board of Governors member.
 
Accolades are nothing new for Mattox, a retired insurance agent. In 2008, he was presented with an honorary doctorate of public service from Ohio University. He has also received the Belmont County Tourism Person of the Year recognition, the West Virginia Education Association's Effie Mayhan Brown Award, and the Community Builder Awards from the cities of Steubenville and Flushing. He also has served as a board member for various companies and organizations, including Harrison County Hospital, Belmont County Correctional Institution Community Board and Bank One in Wheeling, W.Va.
 
Mattox is best known for his work with the Underground Railroad Museum, which displays more than 30,000 items related to the Underground Railroad and slavery. Keys to slave pens, books, reward posters, slave collars, bills of sale and maps from the trans-Atlantic slave trade are included in the collection. Despite the allure of the museum, Mattox fills his traveling trunk with museum artifacts and travels to cities and schools across the region more than 100 times a year. He also gives special tours of notable Underground Railroad sites in the region.
 
Mattox is currently spearheading the inaugural Juneteenth Celebration in the region, as well as the state of Ohio. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. A Juneteenth Celebration event will be held on Friday, June 17, at Ohio University’s Eastern Campus to benefit the Benjamin Lundy Home in St. Clairsville, and the Union Humane Society. The theme for the event will be Rozz’s Garden, in honor of John’s late wife, Rosalind.
 
Despite his remarkable accomplishments, Mattox is most proud of his family life. He was married for fifty years to the late Rosalind L. Stewart-Mattox. They established a lifetime of roots and memories in Flushing, where they raised two children, John R. Mattox (now 41), and Suzanne Evans (now 40). Today, John R. (Jennifer) and Suzanne (James Evans) are married and have two children each, making John S. a grandfather four times over.
 
Austin C. Furbee, for whom the award is named, played a key role in the formation of the Ohio University Eastern Campus. While serving as a Belmont County Commissioner, Furbee realized that there were limited opportunities for higher education in the Ohio Valley. As a result, he became instrumental in the commission’s acquisition of the former Belmont County Experimental Station farmland, which was to become a regional campus of Ohio University. 
 
Furbee’s involvement with Ohio University grew throughout the years. He was a long-time member of the Ohio University Eastern Regional Coordinating Council, and also presided as chairman of the council when Shannon Hall, the first building on the St. Clairsville campus, was dedicated in 1967. As a result of Furbee’s efforts, the Eastern Campus has continued to grow, and serve the needs of the community. Ohio University’s Eastern Campus stands as a tribute to his vision, determination and hard work.  
 
The Austin C. Furbee award was first given in 1981 after Furbee’s wife, Gladys, established an endowed fund in memory of her husband. The award is given annually to recognize an individual who has shown dedication, commitment and service to Ohio University and to the community.
 
Previous Austin C. Furbee Award Recipients

Mary J. Poston
Dr. Robert J. Parrish
Carole A. Mitchell
Thomas W. Dunlap
Robert Crum
Roger W. Stewart
James Kacsmar
Charles Wilson
Karen Nichols
Robert W. Ney
Dr. E.R. Bovenizer
Marshall Piccin
William L. Toothman
Elizabeth Sproull
Harry W. White
Michael Jamison
George A. Carroll, Jr.
James W. Newton, Jr.
Daniel L. Frizzi, Jr.
Michael McTeague
MaryLou Goodman
John Bisbocci
Terry A. Lee
Dama Burkhart
Dennis Fox
David Brooks
Keith A. Sommer
Richard W. Greenlee
 
Alumni and friends are invited to attend the Austin C. Furbee Award Dinner in Mattox’s honor on Wednesday, May 18, at 7 p.m. at Belmont Hills Country Club.  A reception will precede the award dinner at 6:30 p.m.  The cost to attend is $40 per person, and reservations are required by May 10 by calling 740-699-2494.

This article was provided by Ohio University's Eastern Campus.