PORTLAND – Bob Mathews, who owned Botto’s Bakery and was known for his infectious smile and positive outlook on life, died Wednesday. He was 78.

Mr. Mathews was a fixture at Botto’s Bakery for more than 50 years. He managed the bakery on Washington Avenue for 25 years, then bought the business in 1982.

Soon after, he expanded Botto’s and built a retail store, where customers could sit and have coffee and a bagel or pastry.

Mr. Mathews employed about a dozen people including his two sons, who took over the business about eight years ago.

Botto’s Bakery makes the bagels for Mr. Bagel stores in Greater Portland, and sells bread to many restaurants, grocery stores and small sub shops.

Mr. Mathews retired unofficially in 2003.


His daughter, Karen Walsh of Portland, said Friday that her father opened the store every morning until this week, to give the orders to the delivery drivers. She said her father was a hard worker who took pride in his business.

“The bakery was so much a part of his life,” she said. “He loved the people. He loved his customers. He had so many regulars come in. One customer … he would come in every morning like clockwork, and my father would have his muffin ready for him.”

Mr. Mathews grew up in Portland. He enlisted in the Marines in 1950 and served during the Korean War.

He was married to Margaret Mathews for 57 years. She worked at the Federal Foods grocery store, which was owned by her father.

Mr. Mathews walked in one day and met her. Soon after, they began dating and he took a job as a delivery driver for the store.

Walsh said her parents had a wonderful relationship.


“Everything they did in their life, they did together,” she said. “He has been her companion for 57 years. It’s going to be tough for her.”

Mr. Mathews and his wife enjoyed hosting family gatherings at their camp on Little Sebago Lake. They wintered in Spring Hill, Fla. A highlight of their lives was traveling to Italy and Ireland.

“He was an amazing father,” Walsh said. “He was always there for me and for my family. Whenever we needed anything, we knew we could go to my dad. He has always been a pillar of support for us … and such a good role model for his grandchildren.”

Mr. Mathews took his wife and children and their spouses to dinner Monday for Valentine’s Day.

On Tuesday, he began to feel ill. His wife called their son Stephen Mathews to come to their house to check on him. Soon after he arrived, Mr. Mathews collapsed.

His daughter said the doctors think his heart became too weak and just stopped working.


“The blessing is that he did not suffer,” she said. “That, we are thankful for.”

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:



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