Obituary for George Samuel Mattie
George Samuel Mattie of LaCrosse, WI and Quartzsite, AZ passed away suddenly at his home on April 24, 2013. He was born on March 16,1928 to George and Isabel (Ward) Mattie. After graduating from Thompson, IL high school, he attended Armour Institute at the University of Chicago. Upon receiving a degree in tool and dye making, he opened his own tool and engineering shop in Des Plains, IL, where he specialized in optical engineering. He held several patents on instruments used in the manufacture of contact lenses. In 1962, he and his family moved to LaCrosse where he started a new career in the boating business. He operated Holiday Marina and also managed the gas docks behind the Holiday Inn. It was during this first year of boating on the Mississippi that he earned his nickname, “Wing Dam Sam”. He later moved his business location and added a bait shop. In 1972, he sold his shop and started a new enterprise, Mattie River Yachts. He built houseboats and commercial paddle-wheelers for clients all over the globe. Many of his boats can still be found in ports-of-call throughout the United States and South America. After retirement, he began spending winters in Quartzsite, AZ. Never one to let his mind or body rest, he ran a vendor stand selling flagpoles and flags to the RV crowd. This is how he spent the last 24 years of his life and was excited to return in the fall for another season. Sam was an avid gardener and loved to fish. He had a head full of ideas that needed several lifetimes to fulfill.
Sam is survived by his daughters, Diann (Sanford) Ilstrup of Trempealeau, WI and Sharon (Mark) VanLin of Houston, MN; his grandchildren, Shane (Alyson) Ilstrup of Trempealeau, WI, Stephanie (Andrew) Sirek of Rochester, MN, Holland VanLin, of Rochester, MN, and Ian VanLin of LaCrosse, WI. He is also survived by the two greatest little guys in the world, his great-grandsons, Craig and Caleb Sirek. In addition, he is survived by his brother, Vernon (Leona) Mattie and eight nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and his two sisters, Donna Brown and Rachael Toberman.
There will be a private family service for Sam at a later date. The Dickinson Sletten McKee Hanson Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
To all those who knew him, please raise your glass in toast of Sam, his generosity and his wonderful sense of humor.