Portrait from 1956 Milestone
North Carolina College for Women (now University of North Carolina at Greensboro)
M.A. 1927: Studies
on the Saprolegniaceae and the genus Pythium
Ph.D. 1930: Studies on the genera Nematosporangium
The University of North Carolina Herbarium has
catalogued approximately 400 vascular plant specimens collected by Dr.
Matthews. As only about 10% of the
collection is catalogued, no doubt there are many more of her specimens to be
found. About 20 macrofungi
collected by Dr. Matthews have been catalogued; label information on NCU’s
mycological collection is available at mycoportal.org. About a dozen
bryophytes collected by Dr. Matthews are catalogued at bryophyteportal.org.
Velma Dare Matthews was born in Burlington,
Alamance County, North Carolina to Joseph Marvin Matthews (1878-1940) and
Cora Daisy Moore Matthews (1882-1931).
She grew up in High Point, Guilford County, North Carolina.1,3
She earned a B.A. from North Carolina College
for Women (now University of North Carolina at Greensboro), then earned M.A.
and Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under the
direction of Dr. William Chambers Coker.
She was awarded the Smith Prize for Research (Science) at commencement
She began her teaching career in the Botany
Department of Arkansas A & M College.
In 1934 she moved to Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina, and
served as the chair of the Biology Department for twenty-two years, starting
in 1935. Dr. Matthews was the first woman to serve as the President of the
South Carolina Academy of Science (1946-1947).3
She died at age 53 in Duke Hospital in Durham,
Durham County, North Carolina on 7 January 1958 and is buried in Oakwood
Memorial Park Cemetery in High Point, North Carolina.1,3
the 1958 Milestone (Coker College yearbook):
"How beautifully feminine she looked
in her blue hat that matched her blue eyes" as described by a chapel
Matthews was head of Coker's Biology Department for twenty-two years. This
mental picture will always remain in our minds, for Dr. Matthews was lovely,
not only in appearance, but also in life.
A prominent Carolina scientist, Dr. Matthews filled key state and regional
offices in a number of scientific organizations, including a 1946-1947 term
as the first women president of the South Carolina Academy of Science. She
was also author of numerous scientific publications.
She was a leader as well in local community planning and improvement
activities. Coker's campus was Dr. Matthew's own personal garden,
and we at Coker loved her for the beauty she created and shared with others,
for the value she found in people and for the courage of her life.”
Dedication to Dr. Matthews in the 1956 Milestone
recognizing her dedication in the 1956 Milestone
1. Velma Dare
Matthews. Find A Grave Memorial
#98433321. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=98433321 accessed on 5 February 2015.
2. One Hundred and
Thirty-fifth Annual Commencement, Tuesday, June 10, 1930. University of North Carolina. https://archive.org/stream/commencement19301930univ/commencement19301930univ_djvu.txt
3. UNC Alumni