“To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
A Time To Be Born
On November 27, 1948 in San Antonio, Texas God blessed the late Guy and Mattie Kay-Mathis with their third born child, a handsome baby boy. He was named Cornelius Preston Mathis and brought much joy to this union and family. He was affectionately known as “Neil” after his paternal grand-Uncle Neil Lyarrels, by friends, relatives and loved ones throughout the years.
A Time to Plant
Deacon Neil’s Christian relationship, spiritual and eternal journal began at an early childhood age where he confessed his belief in Christ and decided to make Jesus his savior and deliverer.
He was baptized by the late Rev. Dr. P.S. Wilkinson, Sr. at New Light Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. He worked in different capacities and served faithfully from childhood until adulthood in various church ministries and training programs at New Light Baptist Church.
Deacon Neil later became a charter member of New Covenant Missionary Baptist church in 1997 where he continued to work out his soul salvation and was an ordained deacon. He served as an usher, member of the Brotherhood Ministry, a church Decision Counselor, Secretary of the Deacons’ Ministry, Trustee (former Chair) and was Pastor Paul D. Stevens’ Administrative Assistant for 14 years.
One of his favorite songs was “Father I Stretch My Hands to Thee”.
Deacon Neil’s demeanor was pleasant and ready to please all that he encountered giving them the benefit of the doubt. He always had a contagious smile and a kind spirit to all who greeted him.
A Time To Build Up
Deacon Neil was a product of the San Antonio Public Schools and graduated from Brackenridge High School in 1967. He then matriculated to St. Marys University where he earned a Bachelor Degree in History and a Minor in Economics. He received a Masters Degree in Mid-Management Principalship Administration from Prairie View A & M. University in 1995. He was a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Teaching Certification Department while at Prairie View A & M. He attended the University of Texas at San Antonio where he studied Juvenile Law.
He was initiated as one of the first charter undergraduate members of Omega Psi Phi, Psi Alpha Chapter in San Antonio in 1969 along with Rev. Paul G. Wilkinson and Cecil Salter. He was instrumental in revitalizing the Talent Hunt Program where he served as the chairman for a number of years. He was voted as Omega’s “Unsung Hero” in 1992. He was faithful to his fraternity and served in various positions for many years.
Deacon Neil was a Youth Counselor, Trainer and Job Developer for San Antonio Youth Organization (SANYO) for over twenty years. He was instrumental in placing over 3,000 young people to work at Kelly A.F.B. He continued these skills with the U.T.S.A.’s Prep Program, Bexar County Opportunities Industrial Center (B.C.O.I.C.), George Gervin’s Youth Programs, Parks and Recreation, Y.M.C.A and Positive Solutions After School Programs during the summers where he touched thousands of young people’s lives.
He was a dedicated and accomplished musician and played saxophone for over twenty years with the “Soul Blazers” and “Life and Death Experience” with various singing artists and shows throughout the city, state and country. These included Della Resse, B.B. King, Johnny Taylor, Bobby Shannon, Frankie Beverly, O.S Grant, Don Henson, Bruce & J. D. Holmes, Willie Gordley, Jr. , Gerald Allen, Roland Franklin Jr., W.T. Dotson, Eddie Wolford, “Curly Mays” and various other artists.
His first teaching job was at Highlands High School in 1972 where he taught History. He later was assigned to teach at Rhodes Middle School where he remained there for thirty-one years and did his Principal Administration training. He was recruited to teach in the Magnet Program at Rhodes Technology Academy, where he was the History Chairman for many years and organized numerous Black History Programs and events. He was also the Golf Coach and named Teacher of the Year while there in the Magnet Program. He had the distinct honor and was recognized for having one-hundred percent of his history students receive passing scores on the state mandated Texas Assessment Test. He was consulted to teach his methods and techniques to the district’s History teachers. He remained there until his retirement in 2004. He also taught GED classes at Fox Tech High School and other schools in the San Antonio Independent School District for a number of years in the evenings.
He completed his illustrious career dream in teaching and was a brilliant and exceptional teacher, a genuine friend, advisor, motivator, role model, husband, father, son, brother, friend, but most of all a “Dedicated Christian”.
A Time To Love
In 1971, he was united in holy matrimony to the love, desire, and whom he asked God for; the apple of his life, Carolyn “Sudie” Jackson-Gaddis Mathis at St. James Baptist Church in Seguin, Texas. To this union two beautiful and loving children were added to the family, Cornelius “Bubba” and Camellia “Meia” Mathis.
A Time To Die
“It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him.”
II Timothy 2:11
Answering the Master’s call, Deacon Neil transitioned from his earthly house to the mansion prepared for him by our Heavenly Father on August 28, 2018 to be with the Lord.
A Time to Mourn
In transitioning from earth to glory, Deacon Neil leaves many wonderful memories and a well lived life with his beloved wife Carolyn “Sudie” Mathis; son Cornelius “Bubba” (Ebonee & grand children Jericho Mitchell and Rylee Mathis); daughter Camellia “Meia” Mathis (grandchild Jordan Camille); mother Mattie Mathis; sisters Carolyn Kay (Paul) Wilson and Vanessa Gail Martin; brothers James Anthony (Jeanette) and Guy Lawrence (Jennifer); Special Uncle & Aunt Joyce (Valree) Thompson and Aunt Ivoryne Mathis; special cousin, Agnes Jewet; Special Sister & Brother-in -Law Shelton“ Nancy “Posqulla” and Mike “Shelton” McKinney; brothers-in-laws Leon “Bubba” and Willie “Bucky” Gaddis; cousin Rev. James “Baby Brother” Bryant; special childhood friend Rev. Paul Gerard Wilkinson, Sr. and other extended family members as well as a host of friends. A special acknowledgement to my ”Pastor”, friend and confidant whom I can say “you saw the best in me through our God, when nobody could say see the best in me”; I love you man, see you in glory. It can truly be said, “I fought a good fight, I finished the course and I kept the faith.” I’m at home with my wife, daddy, mother and brother whom I truly love.
Deacon Neil wants everyone to know that if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and that He was God’s only son and was resurrected from the dead, then you will see your loved ones one day in paradise/heaven; especially my Deacon “Line brothers” Samuel Brown, Charlie Mac, Freddie Patterson, Bryant Jefferson, Michael Ross, my late brother, Joel Stanley Mathis & Minister Walter Williams.