Ivan grew up on the family homestead in Midvalley, working hard, and learning to become a man of honesty and integrity. His father served in the original Enoch Ward bishopric all the years he was growing up and Ivan learned early to love service, and to love the Lord.
Ivan started school in the old one room school house at the corner of Midvalley Road and Bulldog Road, and then transferred to Cedar City schools in third grade. He graduated from Cedar City High School in 1945, where he was active in FFA, receiving the Union Pacific Scholarship.
Ivan chose to enlist in the Army rather than be drafted. In 1945, after basic training, he was sent to the Pacific Theater to help bolster troop numbers preparing for the invasion of Japan. The war ended while they were still at sea. He was with the troops who helped clean up Hiroshima after the atomic bomb. Ivan was company clerk for a hospital detachment when discharged from the army in Japan in 1946.
Ivan married Etta Louise Warren July 21, 1948 in the St. George Temple. They bought an unfinished log home on Enoch Road, which they finished over the next 12 years while raising five children, four girls and one boy. Ivan worked days at Lunt Motor Co. as a body and fender repairman and painter.
He worked early mornings, late nights and weekends rescuing the family farm with the help of his brothers Evan and LaMar. In 1955 the brothers built a dairy while continuing their other employment. In 1961, Ivan moved his family to Midvalley and the brothers opened Matheson Dairy to sell raw milk. Dairying and farming became his full-time employment for the next 25 years, until health issues forced his retirement. He then worked at Lunt Motor Co. selling cars until after his 82nd birthday.
Ivan was elected to the Iron County Commission in 1962, serving four terms. He chaired the original Five County Association of Governments, was instrumental in obtaining funding and overseeing the building of the Iron County Courthouse, and helped oversee the building of the old Valley View Medical Center, a county-owned hospital, and served as chairman of its board of directors.
He served as president of the Utah County Officials Association in 1976 and was named the Utah Outstanding County Official that year. He was elected to the Utah State Senate in 1977, where he served three terms until 1989. He served as chairman of the 13 Western States Council of State Legislature Public Government Lands Committee, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman, on the Health & Human Services Committee, as well as others. Ivan served as a member of the Governor’s Community Affairs Council. He sponsored legislation that secured funding to build Quail Creek Reservoir, the SUU Centrum and the Sharwan Smith Center.
Ivan’s callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have brought him his greatest joy, next to his family. He was Elders Quorum President, a Seventy and Stake Mission President. He served in the Enoch Ward Bishopric, then as Bishop of the newly formed Enoch 2nd Ward and as a High Councilor.
Ivan and Louise served several ward and stake missions, a full time mission to the Tallahassee Florida Mission, an LDS 12 Step Addiction Recovery Mission, and seven years in the St. George Temple. He loved the calling of Home Teacher and his home teaching families, never missing the opportunity to visit with them. Ivan sang in the ward choir until unable to climb the stairs to the choir seats.
Ivan is survived by his five children, Carolyn Jones (Brent), Elma Baird (James), Angela Wankier (David), Renee Wankier (Gordon), Ivan James (Patti); 28 grandchildren; 88 great-grandchildren, and his sister Lovena Adams.
He is preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Etta Louise; parents; brothers Francis, Evan, Hugh, Barnard, and LaMar; sisters Olive Maxwell, Grace Holyoak, Glenna Matheson, Amelia Daly, and Alice Halterman; and grandson Ivan Craig Matheson.
The family would like to thank so many friends and neighbors for their friendship and care over the past few years. Special thanks to his Mutual Girls, Home Evening Group, Derek, Karrie, Helen, DeEtt, Krystal, Dr. Clint Bunker, the wonderful staff at Kolob Care and Rehabilitation Center, and Alliance Hospice.
Funeral services were Feb. 27, at the Midvalley/Three Peaks Chapel, 70 E. Midvalley Road, Enoch. A viewing was Friday, Feb. 26 at Southern Utah Mortuary and at the Midvalley/Three Peaks Church before services. Interment followed in the Enoch City Cemetery. Arrangements are by Southern Utah Mortuary and their caring staff. Online condolences can be made at www.sumortuary.com.