Richard “Rick” Mathias was born September 13, 1943, to Donald “Buck” and Leola “Lola” (Knott) Mathias in Worthington, MN. He was baptized at St. Mary’s Church in Worthington and later confirmed at St. Peter’s Church, Dumont, MN.
After a long and courageous fight with lung cancer, Rick passed away in the early morning hours of May 13, 2020, at the age of 76 years.
His family moved from the Worthington area to rural Dollymount Township in Traverse County, MN, where his parents began farming and raising their children.
Rick attended country school and Herman Public School through 8th grade; then attended West Central School of Agriculture at Morris from grades 9-12, where he was a standout basketball player. Following graduation from WCSA in 1961, he continued his education at North Dakota State University and was then drafted into the military service, serving in the Air Force National Guard for six years, spending time training in Texas and Alaska. He was a member of the Ralph-Leslie American Legion Post #297 of Dumont and a current member of the Merton-Dale American Legion Post #80 of Wheaton.
Together with his father, Rick began grain farming in the early 1960s. In 1967, he purchased the original Mathias family farmstead from his Aunt Irene (Mathias) Littauer. He often reminisced about how he sold his prized blue Corvette to secure the down payment for the farm which had been in the Mathias family since 1902 when Rick’s grandparents Anton and Bertha Mathias settled there. Over the years he raised corn, soybeans, wheat and sunflowers. He loved running the planter in the spring and combining the crops in the fall. In 2002, the farm was acknowledged and honored by the Governor of the State of Minnesota as a Minnesota Century Farm. Rick’s love of his farmland was evident in his passion for farming. He was a farmer until the day he passed away with his final crop being planted by his son, Jonathan, within days of his passing.
He attended aviation classes and flight school training in Minneapolis and started his Mathias Aerial Spraying business with his Super Cub ag spray plane in 1965 and continued his aerial crop spraying until 2002 when he retired from his spraying business. Rather than flying over the telephone wires and electrical posts, Rick decided to apply the herbicides more precisely by flying under the wires and between the posts. Over his 37-year career of being an ag pilot, many spectators flocked to watch his amazing flying maneuvers. There were more than a few times when he had emergency forced-landings because of an engine malfunction, but as he often said, “Flying is the 2nd greatest thrill in the world…landing is the first.”
On September 20, 1969, Rick married Marilyn Lesmeister at Assumption Church, Morris, MN. Following their wedding, they moved to his farm east of Dumont, where they started their family, raising their two children, Jessica and Jonathan.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Rick was a member of the Dumont Saints Baseball Team. He always loved telling his family about all the home runs he had hit over the fence that ended up at the bottom of Twelve Mile Creek. He was a charter member of the Morris Flying Club and had also been a member of the Graceville Trap Shooting Club. He loved watching Minnesota Vikings football games and old westerns, with “The Outlaw Josey Wales” being his favorite movie. His hobbies were fishing, both by boat and on the ice, and hunting for deer, pheasants, ducks and geese. He enjoyed elk hunting in Wyoming and Colorado, as well as fishing on the Missouri River.
Beginning in the mid-1970s, he and his family began camping at Elk Lake near Hoffman, MN. In the early 1980s, they got their first motorhome and spent time camping at other various lakes throughout Minnesota. In the mid-1990s, the family returned to Elk Lake and had a seasonal site at the campground, along with several other family members until 2006. Countless hours were spent there every summer weekend boating, fishing, sitting around the campfire and making memories with his family, relatives, friends and sometimes even complete strangers who joined in the fun.
In 2007, he fulfilled his life-long dream of owning a log cabin when he and Marilyn purchased a lake home on Lake Rachel, near Alexandria. While there, Rick served as Vice President of the Lake Rachel Association. In 2015, after he had beat cancer the first time, they bought a lake home on Lake Reno, just south of Alexandria, where he was a current board member of the Lake Reno Villa Homeowners’ Association. He passed away there peacefully, in his sleep, in his favorite chair in the presence of family.
Rick is survived by wife Marilyn Mathias of Wheaton; his two children, daughter Jessica (Joe) Coners of Richfield, MN and son Jonathan R. Mathias of Wheaton, MN; siblings Judith (Robert) Kleinman, St. Paul, MN; Donna (Dick) DeFoe, Verona, WI; Michael (Jody) Mathias, Fargo, ND; Michele Mathias, Alexandria, MN; sisters and brothers-in law Patricia Nelson, Morris, MN; Connie (Randy) Reuss, Alexandria, MN; Sheila (Todd) Ronhovde, Barrett, MN; Chuck (Laurie) Lesmeister, Morris, MN, and several nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents Donald and Leola Mathias, sister Faith Mathias, and niece Margaret “Molly” Kleinman, maternal and paternal grandparents, aunts and uncles, and father and mother-in- law Leonard and Florence Lesmeister.
A family memorial service is being planned for a later date.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Richard Lee Mathias, please visit our floral store.