Remembering Becky Mattson

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A few years ago, long-time Lakeside resident Becky Mattson sat on a swing at Wayfarers State Park near Bigfork and wondered out loud to family why there wasn't anything similar in her community — where children could swim and play.

She didn't know at the time, but she would play a major role in helping one come to fruition on the West Shore.

It was the Mattson family property that became the first and one of the largest pieces that would become Volunteer Park — a new public, waterfront park in Lakeside that was developed by residents Margaret Davis and Bruce Ennis and gifted to Flathead County.

However, Mattson, who died at age 88 on July 5, never got to see the park completed.

"Thinking about her on the swing that day, she would be so pleased by the park and what it means to Lakeside," said Ursula Mattson, her daughter-in-law.

Becky Mattson, along with her husband Dick, were known in the community both for their business and their volunteer work. They owned and operated Mattson Realty since the 1960s.

According to her family, Becky Mattson was one of the first women in the profession and was licensed as a Montana Realtor in 1960.

In many ways, Mattson was the epitome of what the park stands for — people with a strong sense of volunteerism and a dedication to the community.

"She was a very community-minded person," said Rae Marie Fauley, who worked with Mattson. "Her vision for Lakeside a long time ago was to have some sort of park and a sort of community center. She loved children and she was always doing things for this community."

In the 1970s, she and Dick established the National Good Neighbor Day Foundation. They lobbied Congress for three decades to establish the fourth Sunday of September as a day for neighbors to help each other.

Proclamations were signed by at least three U.S. presidents and several governors recognizing the day.

She had numerous causes and groups she was a part of including working with the North Shore Coalition to stop lake erosion, serving on the acquisition committee for the Lakeside sewer, helping overturn plans to sell Lakeside school and property, and collecting funds to pave Lakeside Boulevard North years ago. She was also a member of the Lakeside Community Club and a part of the Lakeside Community Fair held each July. She was also known for her performances as a clown for community fundraisers.

In honor of Mattson's role, the large pavilion in Volunteer Park has been named for the Mattson family. The Mattson property, which extended from the highway to the lakefront, was purchased in 2008 and helped pave the way for the park to be developed.

"Becky would have seen the park as someplace not only for families to enjoy the lake but for band concerts in the summer, for art groups to gather to paint, for art in the park shows, for storytelling or book reading to the school kids — all the things she loved," local resident Terry Mimnaugh said.

A celebration of Mattson's life will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26, at the park. In case of inclement weather, it will move to the Lakeside Community Chapel.

Memorials in her name can be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation or the Richard Mattson Memorial Scholarship fund at Flathead Valley Community College.

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