May 18, 1953 – April 23, 2019

San Diego – Neal Joseph Matthews passed away at his San Diego Home on April 23, 2019. He was born on May 18, 1953 in Berkeley, CA. He moved with his family to Colorado Springs, CO in 1965 and attended William Mitchell High School, where he excelled academically. After graduation, to everyone’s surprise, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, scored high on tests, and landed his dream assignment at Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego. His military service as a Navy diver and parachute rigger was a source of pride for the rest of his life.

Neal’s twin passions were writing and the sea – “Moby Dick” was his Pole Star – and he pursued both with a singular gift. He dove the Caribbean and the Red Sea, swam in the Antarctic Ocean, traversed the Great Barrier Reef, and explored underwater caves on several continents. The Sea of Cortez became his natural habitat. Back on dry land, he conveyed the magic of those realms in words that had the power to mesmerize.

Neal’s articles appeared in such publications as Boating, Travel/Holiday, Popular Photography, the New York Times, New West/California, the San Diego Union-Tribune, San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles, and the San Diego Reader. He wrote the lead short story in the anthology, “Last Seen Off Stingray Point And 8 Other Dances with Death on the Western Edge.”

In 2003, Neal was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Just as he forged through breakers in the surf zone, he prevailed through countless medical setbacks over the next 16 years and continued to live with vigor and joy.

His achievements during that extra time included underwater photographic chronicling of his beloved Glorietta Bay, where he captured rare images of a California seahorse, and the formulation of his own autologous serum eye drops, which he devised after reading an article in a medical journal. Today, people around the world are following Neal’s example and formulating their own autologous eye drops to alleviate the pain of severe dry eye.

Neal is survived by his wife, Kate Callen; his brothers, Michael Matthews (Carlene), and Troy Matthews (Patty); his sister, Roxanne Kelly; five nieces and three nephews; and six grandnephews and one grandniece. He has been reunited in the next life with his parents, Charles and Beatrice Matthews, and his niece, Katie Cotter.

The family is planning a private memorial service in Colorado Springs.

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  1. Sharing in your sadness as you celebrate Neals life together. I am sending healing prayers and comforting hugs. Deepest condolences.
    Kellea Kloepfer Kohn

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