Obituary of James Francis Mattingly: Mattingly's restaurant owner and former soccer standout | St. Louis Public Radio

Obituary of James Francis Mattingly: Mattingly's restaurant owner and former soccer standout

Aug 27, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Jim Mattingly, a well-known name in St. Louis outdoor soccer who was even better known as the longtime owner of Mattingly’s, a popular St. Louis County sports bar, died unexpectedly of an apparent heart attack at his home in St. Charles Sunday morning (Aug. 25). He was 64.

Mr. Mattingly’s funeral services on Aug. 28, at North County Community Church in Hazelwood will be followed by a “procession of honor,” complete with bagpipers, to a gathering at the restaurant on Lindbergh.

The bagpipers are fitting because at Mattingly’s, “St. Pat’s is the biggest day of the year,” said Stephanie Ritter, one of Mr. Mattingly’s daughters.

Heart of gold

In September 1971, Mr. Mattingly partnered with his mother, Edna, and opened Mattingly’s Inn, the restaurant’s official name, on Howdershell in Hazelwood. Two months later, Mrs. Mattingly was shot and killed during a robbery at the confectionery she owned in the city.

“I don't believe it ever made him think of closing the place,” Ritter said. “He found ways (to get) through it.”

Jim Mattingly and his wife, Cheryl
Credit Family photo

Another setback occurred in 1984, when the restaurant burned down. Mr. Mattingly moved next door to Florissant, reopening the restaurant in 1985 at its current location on Lindbergh.

Mattingly’s had been his mom’s idea, but he was all in. He found the building. He’d been there drinking often enough when it was under different management, beginning before he was of legal age, his family suspects.

Growing up, he was “kind of a wild child,” his daughter laughed. Over 42 years, his customers and the community came to know him as the man with “a heart of gold.”

“Jim was the guy who never asked for anything and he gave everything back for charity,” said his longtime friend, Tim Sweeney, a member of the Blue Flames Club, which met monthly at Mattingly’s for about 20 years.

The restaurant was charity-central for the club, originally formed to help sports teams – volleyball, baseball, soccer – get sponsors. The group’s mission expanded and over time. It raised nearly $200,000 and donated the money to numerous charities, including Marygrove, St. Louis County sheltered workshops, Special Olympics, the American Cancer Society, North County Relay for Life, Evangelical Children's Home and individual families in the area.

His civic work included serving as an advisory director of Commercial Bank in Florissant.

Following his death, Hazelwood Mayor Matthew Robinson told KSDK-TV Channel 5 that Mr. Mattingly was a good friend to him and to the business community, often giving advice to other up and coming business owners.

"He was always a supporter of any function that needed to be taken care of, or to help anybody out in any way," Robinson said.

That included his customers who were smokers and about to be out in the cold when St. Louis County instituted an indoor smoking ban.

Before the ban went into effect in January 2011, NOCO, a North County online magazine, called Mattingly’s “a cigarette lover’s paradise.” Mr. Mattingly astutely accommodated his customers by building an adjacent thousand square foot pavilion, named in honor of his mother, for smokers.

The sports guy

Mattingly’s was always a sports bar, believed to be one of the first in the area, because Mr. Mattingly was a sports guy.

James Francis Mattingly was born in St. Louis on May 25, 1949, the youngest of Estill, a house painter, and Edna Mattingly’s three children. Mr. Mattingly became part of the reason St. Louis became the mecca for amateur outdoor soccer.  He was an outstanding player at De Andreis High School, St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley and for powerhouse area teams.

He was looking forward to a career with the St. Louis Stars, the professional soccer team that played here from 1968 to 1977 before relocating to become the California Surf. A knee injury quickly derailed those plans, but not before he had made an area name for himself.

Jim Leeker, president of the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame and the 1970 Stars Rookie of the Year, faced Mr. Mattingly’s many times when they were both amateurs.

“He was a great amateur soccer player,” Leeker said. “He was a tough, hardnosed player; a force to be reckoned with.”

The bottom line

Mr. Mattingly was also a fervent golfer who had been to a Master’s Golf Tournament and played one of the oldest and most venerable golf courses in the world, St. Andrew’s in Scotland.

His favorite line, his family agreed, was “the bottom line is …” and he used it liberally as he planned for the 2008 opening of his second restaurant, Mattingly’s Bar & Grill in St. Charles. He was also fond of saying “all people in life make you happy: some when they come in and some when they leave.”

Mr. Mattingly was definitely the former.

On the restaurant’s website he proudly proclaimed that his restaurant is “a neighborhood place for many regular customers.”

“I know people by their first names and what they eat and drink,” he said.

Mr. Mattingly was preceded in death by his parents.

His survivors include his wife, Cheryl A. Mattingly (nee Atherton), St. Charles; two daughters, Stephanie (Daniel) Ritter and Jacquelyn (Jayson) Bridges, both of O’Fallon, Mo.; a son, Kyle Mattingly of Florissant; stepchildren, Andrea (Ross) Kidd, Winfield, Mo., and John (Callie) Eagan, Hazelwood; a brother, Thomas (Lucy) Mattingly, St. Charles, and a sister, Joan (the late Joseph) Manley, Sunset Hills; 11 grandchildren and his former spouse, Sharon Mattingly, of Winfield.

Visitation will be 1-9 p.m. Wednesday at Hutchens Mortuary & Cremation Center, 675 Graham Road, in Florissant. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at North County Community Church, 7410 Howdershell Road, in Hazelwood. A procession from the funeral will terminate at Mattingly’s, 8108 North Lindbergh, where a life celebration will ensue.

The body will be cremated.

Memorials would be appreciated to the Major Case Squad, 700 North 5th Street, Belleville, 62220, or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Gloria S. Ross is the head of Okara Communications and AfterWords, an obituary-writing and design service.