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Success Stories

Prepared for Life: Bob's Story

Bob Matthews’ Boys Town story is a little different than most, but the result for him is one of thanks and gratitude to the home that he says gave him a chance.

One of nine children, Matthews remembers the Saturday morning his mother was rushed to the hospital where she was diagnosed with tuberculosis. At the time, she was given three months to live.

“My father didn’t believe he could take care of nine kids and continue to work as a salesman,” Matthews recalls. “So, our family was split up. The oldest went to my grandmother’s and the two oldest boys went to Boys Town. I was sent, along with my five younger brothers and sisters, to St. James Orphanage. The thought was we were young enough to be adopted.”

But Bob was not that fortunate.

“My younger siblings did get adopted,” he said. “But it took three years, until I was 12, before I eventually got sent to Boys Town. I was happy I was going to be at a place with my two older brothers, but I didn’t show much emotion and didn’t smile a lot. I needed to find someone I could trust. Boys Town helped me find that.”

Matthews did well in school. He also was a regular participant in sports.

“I wasn’t a star, but I was happy on the sports teams,” Matthews said. “I played football, starting on the sophomore and junior varsity teams. I also wrestled.”

Matthews was Salutatorian in the 8th grade, and he credited his Boys Town teachers with motivating him and opening his mind to new challenges.

“I was fortunate to have a teacher that caught my attention and really brought the best out of me,” he said. Matthews said he went on to become a commissioner as a junior at Boys Town a position usually reserved for seniors.

Still, Matthews said after his older brothers left Boys Town, he decided to leave the school in 1971 before graduating. He completed his high school education at Omaha Central.

“Being a fairly normal teenager who knew everything,” Matthews said sarcastically, “I decided to leave and walked out. It made the next few years harder than they should have been.”

Fortunately, he had Boys Town staff who supported him.

“I had to go to juvenile court for walking away,” Matthews said. “A staff member testified that I had done everything I could at Boys Town, and it was time for me to move on. I will never forget that support.”

Matthews earned an academic scholarship at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He credited Boys Town with preparing him for college. After college, he joined the Army as a medic and later worked in a lab at Fort Carson. But after nine years, he received a medical discharge and moved on to working in a group home and eventually for the Job Corps.

After 19 years, Matthews returned to Omaha where he did rehabilitation work at Offutt Air Force Base. He worked there for 25 years before retiring.

Today, Matthews and his partner, Suncha, live in Las Vegas. They moved there to be closer to family. He spends his spare time golfing and going to the gym five days a week.

“It’s a good life but I wouldn’t be where I am today without the education and training that Boys Town gave me,” Matthews said. “Boys Town gave me a home when I needed one, an education, a future, and a family to share it with.”

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