Bruce Douglas Mattson, 97, passed away peacefully at home on Jan. 26, 2019.
He was born of Swedish stock in Litchfield, Minn. on Oct. 3, 1921. The family moved to Mankato, Minn., where Bruce and his two younger sisters, Marie and Grace, were raised.
His mother taught him piano, for which he had a natural talent. He played in church and for local dances. In high school he bought a new car with money earned as a pianist.
He played in several jazz bands in southern Minnesota. At the start of WWII, he left college, enlisting in the Army in 1942 and was eventually commissioned a lieutenant assigned to Cannon Company, 333rd Infantry Regiment of the 84th Division, “Railsplitters”. He fought at Geilenkirchen and the Ardennes Forest, losing a leg during the Battle of the Bulge.
Bruce married Mary Lou Neely of Oakdale, La., in 1945 while convalescing in Texas. They had met in Camp Claiborne Army Depot, La., while he was in training and had written to each other while he was overseas. Bruce and Mary Lou made their home in Mankato, Minn., where they raised three sons. Bruce attended college while working for the post office. He attended graduate schools in Minnesota and Colorado, where he earned a doctorate in education.
The family moved to Lubbock, Texas in 1965 where Bruce founded the Special Education Department at Texas Tech University; he served as department chair and professor of education until his retirement in 1983. He continued teaching as an adjunct professor at numerous universities and colleges.
Bruce and Lou lived on Whidbey Island since 1985 — first in Langley and then in Oak Harbor, where Bruce continued to teach in local colleges. They were both active in the Retired Officers Association. Bruce and Lou last year celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary.
He is survived by his wife Mary Lou Mattson and sons Bruce Douglas Mattson, Jr. and Daniel Marshall Mattson. Middle son Robert Winston Mattson passed away a few months earlier.
Bruce is also survived by 10 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
Bruce was a rare and gifted personality. His was the warmth and affability of Jimmy Stewart, the humor and sharp wit of Danny Kaye and the gentle kindness in spirit of both. He was and will continue to be an inspiration and role model for his sons and family.
A memorial service will take place this February at Tahoma National Ceme-tery, in Kent, with full military honors.
Arrangements entrusted to Wallin Funeral Home, Oak Harbor.