Millions of young lives have been transformed through the efforts of Martin Luther Mathews. In the book, he explains how and why he did it.
The club has grown tremendously since its founding in 1960 by Mathews and the late Hubert Dickey Ballentine. Mathews describes his motivation.
"Whatever you do for yourself is going to die with you. And what you do for others will live forever. And that's what I've been trying to do.”
His biography is titled, "I Trust You With My Life," No doubt a sentiment expressed by those who reap the benefits of Mathews' undeniable compassion. Seventy-five people talked to author Richard Weiss over the past year. He said he thought it would be a daunting task, but found it moved very smoothly.
“I couldn't wait for the next person, the next name he would give me. Because they had such wonderful stories to tell about how they were influenced by Mr. Mathews, what the club meant to them,” Weiss said.
For Mathews, it meant working six days a week, 12 to 13-hour days. While his family supported the effort, the club's growth meant Mathews lost precious time with his wife and five daughters.
“That’s what I’ll leave here thinking. Why didn’t I spend more time with them. But I couldn’t. My challenge was so great,” he said.
At 92, the recently retired Mathews attributes his longevity to his parents and the lessons he learned growing up in southeast Missouri. It's the same message he shares with kids at the club. He said you judge people by their character.
“You have to have three things. You have to have determination, talent, and now you have to have the education,” he said.
Weiss said the club exposed the kids to valuable information.
“The club, what it did, it helped kids be resourceful and figure out how to get from here to there. And the other thing was, the club was always talking about college. What college are you going to?" he said.
College scholarships have been awarded to several members of the girls softball team. They are the 2017 RBI World Series Champs.
Proceeds from the Martin Luther Mathews Biography support the club's mission through it’s endowment. And the annual Martin L. Mathews Awards Program and Benefit Concert, on Aug. 26th, features vocalists Brian McKnight and Ginuwine.