In loving memory of Van Matson: 1956-2022


Van Ernest Matson was born June 4, 1956, to Lew and Penny Matson in Vancouver, Washington. He unexpectedly died Jan. 28, 2022, as his heart quietly stopped in his sleep. His heart was damaged after a heart attack at age 36 on Feb.15, 1993, and he has struggled with its limitations since.

He loved God and His Word, and humbly rejoiced that his loving Jesus had paid for all of his sins. He shared the love in his heart with those he met. He was a lifelong member of the Hockinson Apostolic Lutheran Church.

Van grew up on the banks of the Lewis River above Battle Ground. He attended Battle Ground schools and graduated from Battle Ground High School in 1974.

Van married his childhood sweetheart Oct. 26, 1974, and they grew up together, entwined, intermingled, and were blessed with 47 years of marriage. The way he tells it, she was literally his childhood sweetheart, as he insisted he was 6 when he decided he was going to marry Laura. 

With a baby and a toddler, on May 1, 1978, at age 21, Van and Laura started their own business, Right Way Excavation, where his goal was to do it right. His employees and many of his customers became his friends. Many times through the years, Van said how fortunate he was to be able to do work he enjoyed, but in the last years, he did not enjoy it so much, and was looking forward to retirement. 

He often said, “I really like people. I am a people person.” We teased him that he was the kind of person who thinks “a stranger is just a friend he hadn’t met yet.” His family, his work and visiting were his favorite pastimes, but he also enjoyed traveling in cars, pickups, RVs, on airplanes, motorcycles, as well as arm-chair traveling and history via reading books. He also enjoyed snowmobiling, classic vehicles, and in years past, hiking with his wife, or friends, climbing Mount St. Helens a couple times and hiking across the Grand Canyon. Also, like most Matsons, he had a special affinity for Silver Star Mountain, where their ancestors ran free range cattle, and Van told many times about being on a couple roundups, horses and all. The generations following love it like it was their own mountain.

He wanted to do more traveling after he retired, but he and Laura, and family were able to travel a considerable amount in the United States, and some in Canada, through the years and also enjoyed a number of trips to Europe. They especially enjoyed a trip to Israel. We are thankful for those times.

He will be missed by many, but deeply and especially missed, by his wife, children and grandchildren.

Van is survived by his loving wife Laura Karlsen Matson, of Battle Ground, Washington; their dear children, daughter Katrina, with husband Chad Taylor of Traverse City, Michigan; son Wyatt, of Ridgefield, Washington; son Tristan with wife Sonja, of Battle Ground, Washington; son Courtney with wife Shana, of Pasco, Washington; daughter Larisa, of Battle Ground, Washington; daughter Rosalina with husband James Yales, of Yacolt, Washington; daughter Christabelle, of Battle Ground, Washington; and daughter Lililya of Battle Ground, Washington. He left 15 much loved grandchildren: Gavin, Berwyn, Anwen, Kendrick, Tressa, Penelope, Aleah, Sylvia, Jeffrey, Eleanor, Chanelle, Ean, Leander, Cassia and Carly. 

He is also survived by his sister Joan Spence, of Battle Ground, Washington; sister Diana with husband Wilho Aho, of Sebeka, Minnesota; brother Jack with wife Ann, of Amboy, Washington; sister Marsha with husband Leslie Hanson, of Ponsford Prairie, Minnesota; sister Nora with husband Andy Mickelson, of Amboy, Washington; brother Paul with wife Cheryl, of Battle Ground, Washington; brother Rodney Matson, of Yacolt, Washington; brother Roger with wife Priscilla of Greer, South Carolina; and brother Norman with wife Aurora, of Battle Ground, Washington; numerous nieces and nephews and cousins, and other relatives of his and Laura’s, his church family, as well as many other friends. 

He is preceded in death by his parents Lewis and Penny (Ethel) Matson, his brother Karl Matson, his sister-in-law Joy Matson, his parents-in-law Marvin and Marilyn Karlsen, and brother-in-law Neal Karlsen.

The funeral will be held at the Hockinson Apostolic Lutheran Church, 16108 NE 192nd Ave., Brush Prairie, on Feb. 7, 2022, at 2 p.m. Viewing is at 1 p.m. He will be interred at Gravel Point Cemetery.