Vernon Doyle Matthews
Cadet Company: X F1
Date of Birth: December 11, 1941
Date of Death: January 23, 2008
Died in Biloxi, MS
Interred: Cremated - View or Post a Eulogy
Vernon Doyle "Scrappy" Matthews entered the United States Military Academy in July 1961 with the Class of 1965. He was a proud son of Mississippi and soon established himself as a well-liked classmate with a fun-loving and tenacious character. He successfully made it through a tough F-1 plebe year but ran afoul of the department of mathematics as a yearling and, despite his best efforts, left the Academy in 1963. He joined the Army Reserves and stayed with them until 1967.
After leaving West Point, Scrappy enrolled in the University of Alabama where he graduated with a degree in journalism in 1967. He then worked for the Memphis Commercial Appeal as a staff photographer for three years. His former editor at the Commercial Appeal said Scrappy "was so tenacious he would fight a buzz saw." He was working in Memphis when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and covered this event. He also covered the sanitation workers strike there and was among Commercial Appeal photographers whose work was featured in the book I Am a Man which included coverage of the strike.In 1970, he joined the Biloxi Sun Herald as a staff photographer and won state and regional awards for his work. He worked at the Sun Herald for 29 years until his retirement in 1999. Scrappy had a life-long love of dogs and was an active advocate for the Gulf Coast Humane Society.
His Irish setter "BJ" was with him when he passed away. "BJ" was taken in by the animal shelter where Scrappy volunteered and the dog was later adopted by a very caring family and serves as a Hospital Service Dog.
Scrappy also had a love of the City of New Orleans. He founded a group of individuals from all over the country who shared his love of the city. The group met there frequently, and called themselves the "Rat Pack."
Following his divorce, Scrappy lived by himself in the Mississippi bayou country. When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, Scrappy was certain that the railroad berm he lived behind would protect him and his house, but Katrina proved him wrong. As the winds were ripping his home apart, Scrappy went outside and yelled at the storm. "You destroyed my house but you didn't get me!"
On a visit to a classmate a few months before his passing, Scrappy awed his friend with his still fresh knowledge of West Point, including Plebe Poop and The Days. He was a dedicated ex-cadet his whole life and attended several reunions. He remarked on how friendly his former classmates were and how wonderful it was to reminisce about cadet days.
Scrappy died at his home of natural causes in January 2008 and is
survived by his daughter Kelly Mathews King and four grandchildren.