Staff Writer

His expertise in a field of medicine that was relatively new to Maine probably prolonged the lives of dozens, if not hundreds of sick children.

A colleague described him as pioneer in Maine pediatric cardiology.

Edward C. Matthews, affectionately known as Doc, died Thursday in Damariscotta after being recently diagnosed with cancer.

Dr. Matthews, who was 85, was a longtime resident of Nobleboro.

“He was a pioneer in pediatric cardiology,” said Dr. J. Dan Miller, a Portland pediatrician. “Because of his work many people who were treated by him are still alive today.”

Dr. Matthews was born in Passaic, N.J., to Leonard M. and Gertrude Timmis Matthews. His father was an eye, ear and nose surgeon, Miller said.

“He really admired his dad,” Miller added.

Dr. Matthews followed in his father’s footsteps, attending Dartmouth Medical School and McGill University Medical College. After his internship, he completed a pediatric residency at Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati.

During his childhood, Dr. Matthews’ parents purchased a summer cottage on Little Island in Christmas Cove, near South Bristol. The cottage is connected to the mainland by a footbridge.

He spent many summers at the cottage, developing a love of Maine and its quality of life.

In the late 1950s, Dr. Matthews moved to Portland to start his own pediatric practice.

Miller, who has written a book about the history of pediatrics in Maine, said he believes his colleague was the first certified pediatric cardiologist to practice in Maine.

In 1971, Dr. Matthews established the Pediatric Center — the first pediatric group practice in Maine. Miller joined the practice in 1973.

“It was a different world back then. He still did house calls. I like to say they were the grandfathers of pediatricians in Maine,” said Dr. Matthew’s daughter, Anne Sowles of Cumberland Foreside.

Sowles said her father was a devoted physician who not only treated children’s diseases, but was at the forefront of treating infants with cardiac issues.

“He was very caring, very conscientious and was concerned about getting it right,” she said.

Miller said his friend was also a skilled teacher. He trained many physicians at Maine Medical Center.

One of his favorite pieces of advice from his courses sticks in Miller’s mind.

“When you are up to your hips in alligators, it is difficult to remember to drain the swamp,” Miller said.

Dr. Matthews retired in 1989, after 31 years in pediatrics.

During retirement, he took up alpine skiing and kept at it until last year.

He also refurbished a 1936 gaff rig sloop with his son, Meyric of Union. His son is a boatbuilder.

“It was a labor of love,” his daughter said. They named the boat Stella.

But, his favorite getaway remained the family cottage on Christmas Cove.

His daughter said the cottage has a magical quality to it, with a deck that extends over the ocean. At high tide, you can hear water splashing under the master bedroom.

“It’s a pretty simple cottage, but it’s a pretty unique setting,” she said.

At Matthews’ request, there will be no public service. A private gathering will be held this spring at the Christmas Cove cottage.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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Each day the newsroom selects one obituary and seeks to learn more about the life of a person who has lived and worked in Maine. We look for a person who has made a mark on the community or the person’s family and friends in lasting ways.