Born on August 17, 1926 in Harlem, Lewis W. Matthews, Sr. has lived in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn for the past 44 years. He enlisted at age 16 (four months before his 17th birthday) in the United States Army and served from April 1943 to May 1946. Mr. Matthews trained in chemical warfare in the states of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee and was assigned to combat outfits in Infantry and QM+. For 18 months, he served in the South Pacific Theatre in the Philippines, New Guinea and the Isle of Biak, and was promoted to Corporal.
After receiving an Honorable Discharge in May 1946, Corporal Matthews continued his education, finishing high school and later attending New York University, where he studied Business Administration with an emphasis on Accounting Statistics, Sales Promotion and Business Management. He became a life insurance agent for United Mutual Life Insurance Company, a Licensed Notary Public and real estate broker.
In 1968, Corporal Matthews began working for the New York Urban League and Operation Open City as a Fair Housing Director in Queens and Brooklyn. Eight years later, he was made administrator of the first Energy Conservation/Weatherization Program in New York City, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. He trained 10 community groups in weatherization and energy conservation and set up the Weathco Corporation for The New York Urban League. In addition, he established Top Glass Window Company to provide the community with weatherization plans and replacement windows.
Through a contract with the New York Community Development Agency, Corporal Matthews was named Director of a program that was responsible for the removal of asbestos from hangers at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn.
For three years, he served as a distributor for the New York City Summer Lunch Program.