Tom Mathews, former Tribune staffer who helped start Peace Corps, Common Cause, is dead at 96

Tom Mathews

Tom Mathews, a Salt Lake Tribune staff writer in the 1940s and ’50s who went on to help found or develop the Peace Corps, Common Cause and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, died Saturday. He was 96.

Mathews grew up in Salt Lake City and attended the University of Utah before joining the U.S. Army, where he was a member of the 10th Mountain Division during World War II, an armed ski patrol that fought in the mountains of Italy.

After returning to Utah, he worked for The Tribune and later the San Francisco Chronicle. He was involved in John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1960. After Kennedy’s election, he became Sargent Shriver’s chief administrative aide at the newly founded Peace Corps.

After his stint at the Peace Corps, he was a founding partner with Craver, Mathews, Smith & Co., a public relations firm with such clients as the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, Handgun Control and the League of Women Voters. The firm also served as a direct mail fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee.

Mathews helped John Gardner with the founding of the good-government group Common Cause and became that organization’s vice president. He was public relations director for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City and served as assistant secretary of state for congressional relations.

He was Washington press chief for Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1968, before RFK’s assassination.

In 1992, Mathews was given the University of Utah’s emeritus alumni award for his many accomplishments.

He married Bonnie Johnson in 1942, and they had three children: Thomas Jr., Colin and Anne. He later married Ann Anderson.

Correction, Oct. 16, 7:30 p.m. • An earlier version included a photo of the late Tom Mathews’ son, Thomas Mathews Jr.

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