Terry “Mateo” Mattson died at his home in Lynden surrounded by loved ones on March 27, 2021, at the age of 76 from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Terry was born in Bellingham on June 28, 1944, to Ruth and Conrad Mattson. He attended Meridian High School and received his Bachelor of Science degree in bacteriology and public health from Washington State University. He immediately began serving in the U.S. Army as a food inspector in New Bedford, Massachusetts, during the Vietnam War era. During this time, he met Connie, whom he wed in Nashua, New Hampshire. Together they started their lives in Washington State and raised four daughters: Zoe, Caitlin, Hannah and Felicia. Terry worked for the Snohomish County Health District and went on to start his own soil testing company. He attended Northwest University in Kirkland where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical literature and pastoral studies. Subsequently, he pursued a degree from Fuller Theological Seminary.
Terry felt a deep calling to make a positive impact in the world. He sold the company he founded to pursue his passion for helping others. He had a deep Christian faith and demonstrated this through working with refugees in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. He and his family relocated to San Jose, Costa Rica, to continue this work where he and his then-wife attended language school and became fluent Spanish speakers. He playfully adopted the name “Mateo” that was far easier to pronounce in Spanish. During this time, he founded Seeds of Righteousness, a nonprofit to serve the poor in Central America, that has since provided hope, basic necessities and housing for countless people struck by poverty. Terry passionately carried out many initiatives in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras and married his current wife Alexandra, who has worked alongside him in his charity work for over 20 years. Terry’s calling to help others never stopped; he continued his outreach and support of others for the rest of his life.
Terry loved God. He devoted himself to spreading his love, preaching, having deep and meaningful conversations, hiking, gardening and becoming an accomplished cook. He was an eternal optimist, outgoing and friendly. He was a fighter to the end, he never complained about his health condition, but instead found new ways of working and finding pleasure in life leading up to his final days.
Terry was preceded in death by his father, Conrad; his mother, Ruth; and a grandson, Andrew.
He will always be loved and remembered by his wife Alexandra; ex-wife Connie; his four daughters and their respective spouses (Ramses Murillo, Rob Walker and Toby Starcher), beloved brother Marlin and his husband, Robert Dickerson; sister Kay Ferris; six grandchildren (Aurora, Cedric, Madison, Zane, Kaina and Trinity); two nephews (Vincent Ferris and Nandrin Wenk); three first cousins (Lois Ressler, Marilyn Thompson and Edward Eckberg); and countless other loved ones in Costa Rica.
Terry wished to be remembered by acts of service to others and will be laid to rest in a private ceremony.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Whatcom Hospice Foundation.