Bryan College grieves the passing of Dr. L. Jake Matthes

Jake Matthes

Jake had offers from other schools but chose to attend Bryan College because it was a Christian college. He played basketball, ran cross country and track, and sang in the chorale while attending Bryan. He graduated in 1959, with a B.S. in Mathematics, and in 1960, married his college sweetheart, Sandy Schmickl.

After earning his master’s degree at Northern Illinois Teachers College, Jake was invited by President Dr. Ted Mercer to return to Bryan. From 1967 to 1976, he contributed significantly by revitalizing the mathematics program and leading the track and cross-country teams. He coached a state champion cross country team in 1968, and a national champion cross country team in 1975. In 1978, Jake earned a Doctor of Education degree at the University of Tennessee.

Through the years, Jake and Sandy continued to support Bryan College through daily prayers and financial support. They attended many homecomings and reunions, often driving back to Virginia following a Saturday night banquet at Bryan so they could make it to their church for multiple morning services where Sandy directed the music and Jake played trumpet in the orchestra.

In October of 2005, Jake was inducted into the Bryan College Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2020, he became an inaugural member of the Athletic Advisory Board.

Jake maintained close connections with his former cross-country and track athletes. In 2016, three of his proteges established the Jake Matthes Cross Country Scholarship in his honor.

Known for his infectious laughter and ability to make others feel valued, Jake’s impact extended beyond athletics and mathematics. Often before ending a phone call, Jake would tell me, “I love you, and want the best for you. I pray for you and Bryan College every day.” He will certainly be missed.

~Janice Pendergrass