Williams Funeral Home & Crematory - Obituaries

Wednesday, 24 June 2020 10:58

John Anthony Matel

MATEL John Anthony Matel, age 65, of Vienna, VA, passed away on June 22, 2020. He was born in Milwaukee, WI to the late John Matel Sr. and Virginia Haase Matel. He is survived by his wife, Christine M. Johnson; his daughter, Mariza Matel (Brendan Williams); his sons, Alex and Espen Matel; and his sister, Christine Matel Milewski (Greg Milewski) of Oak Creek, WI. After serving 32 years as a diplomat with the U.S. Department of State, John became a self-professed “Gentleman of Leisure…a sometime diplomat, conservationist & seeker of insights.” John purchased his first forest land in 2005 near Lawrenceville, VA, and as a landowner, certified tree farmer & naturalist, managed nearly 500 acres of Virginia forest for timber, wildlife and water quality. He actively served on boards for Virginia Tree Farm Foundation and the Forest History Society, and promoted southern pine ecology and working landscapes. John led by example, and worked to restore longleaf and shortleaf ecosystems on dedicated parcels of his land, a promise for the future and a beauty today. John’s diplomatic posts with the U.S. Department of State in Brazil, Norway, Poland, Iraq, and the U.S., let him do what he loved: working to understand societies, information and behaviors, and shape strategies to engage networked publics. His proudest accomplishments included working with Iraqis to rebuild their communities after ousting al-Qaeda in Anbar Province, and sending over 26,000 Brazilian students to study STEM fields in top American universities. His career in diplomacy included broadening experiences as President of the Fulbright Commission in Brazil, Senior International advisor at Smithsonian Institution and State Department Fellow at Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy. A memorial celebration will be held at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to The Nature Conservancy, Directed Gifts. Online condolences may be made at www.williamsfuneralhomeva.com.
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  • Comment Link Paula Thiede Monday, 14 September 2020 13:29 posted by Paula Thiede

    Dear Christine and Family,
    I just found John's obituary in the F.S. Journal and am so very sad to share in your loss. Our time together in Poland was so special; it remained the highlight of our career. Christine, I borrowed your candles in the fireplace decorating idea at several subsequent residences, although I never managed to benefit from your creative way of storing tablecloths.

    John taught me a lot about being a good diplomat and a good person. I miss knowing his curiosity and insight is still part of this world. Maybe he and Wakie are having debates in the afterlife; it would be nice to think that is possible.

    You are in my heart. I'm in Arlington and would love to be in touch.
    Lots of love,
    Paula Thiede

  • Comment Link Terri Ballard Sunday, 06 September 2020 07:42 posted by Terri Ballard

    I met John in retirement years as he was my predecessor at State. Such a kind fellow. John could capture an audience with his since of humor or when sharing his varying overseas experiences. It was his dedication to forestry that truly became his passion. May his legacy live on. My condolences to his wife and family.

  • Comment Link The State Departments Office Of Brazil and Southern Cone Affairs Thursday, 16 July 2020 14:50 posted by The State Departments Office Of Brazil and Southern Cone Affairs

    Our best wishes to the Matel family in this time of sorrow. John worked with our office just for a few weeks, but we cherish the short time we had with him and enjoyed getting to know the wonderful and interesting person he was.

  • Comment Link Les deGraffenried Tuesday, 07 July 2020 16:59 posted by Les deGraffenried


    I sure hope you and the kids are doing well. I know you are very sad, as am I.

    John was an amazing and unique person. From his many random thought provoking insights, to just the joy I had from running into him through the Foreign Service years, John truly stood out in my life.

    I will miss him.

    Please stay in touch.


  • Comment Link Dr. Camellia Blackwell-Taffel, Ph.D Saturday, 04 July 2020 09:39 posted by Dr. Camellia Blackwell-Taffel, Ph.D

    I were saddened and surprised to hear about the passing of John Matel. He was a great inspiration and supporter to me, my husband and CAMP CAMELLIA TREE FARM (CCTF) in Goldvein, Virginia.

    As President of the Virginia Forestry Foundation, John Matel visited CCTF and approved the committee's selection of my farm as the 2018 Virginia Tree Farm of the Year.

    My husband and I walked the trails with John as he made suggestions for improvements and possible government programs that might provide support to implement them.

    He was photographed with us in the published group photo at the Tree Farmer of the Year Awards Ceremony in Richmond, VA at the Omni Hotel in May 2018. My husband Sherman Taffel, and our State Forester Joe Rossetti and I were also in the photograph.

    Although we knew John for a short time, it was evident that he was a genuinely kind and supportive person with a tremendous amount of experience with people, forestry and nature. He had earned respect from his peers and constituents as a leader with integrity and heart. He will be missed by many.

  • Comment Link Graham Lampa Friday, 03 July 2020 08:11 posted by Graham Lampa

    My condolences to John’s family and close friends. As a former State colleague of John’s I always valued his honesty, humor, and humanity. Thank you for helping him be the man he was and who meant so much to many of us in diplomatic and conservancy circles. Seeing such an outpouring of grief at his passing makes me even more fully realize what he meant to do many. Rest In Peace, Diplomat and tree farmer!

  • Comment Link George Ripley Wednesday, 01 July 2020 21:09 posted by George Ripley

    I am very saddened to hear of John's passing. I very much enjoyed all of our long arguments. He was always whip smart and never took umbrage at my sometimes pointed comments. He was a gentleman and a scholar in the best sense and I am sure people benefited just by coming into contact with him. He will be missed. Much love to all the family.

  • Comment Link Robert Eaton Wednesday, 01 July 2020 14:30 posted by Robert Eaton

    Rest In Peace John. I was fortunate enough to meet John several years ago in DC at a Wildland Fire Conference and enjoyed lunch with him for a few years while I was still working in DC. He was one of the smartest men I ever met and enjoyed trading stories with him about our careers. May God bless him and his family!

  • Comment Link Stu Mazer Wednesday, 01 July 2020 13:01 posted by Stu Mazer

    I'm so sorry to hear of John's passing. As a USIA/State colleague I will always remember John's kind nature, his dedication to nature, and his always having a story to tell. I followed his posts on LinkedIn regularly as well.
    My condolences to all of his family and friends - he will be remembered, and missed!

  • Comment Link JOÂO MARIA H. FONSECA Monday, 29 June 2020 14:02 posted by JOÂO MARIA H. FONSECA

    May our almithy God conforts the whole family He gives all sort of blessing.
    Psalm 116:15 (KJV)
    Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

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