Thomas G. Matthews, Knoxville

Thomas G. Matthews, 70, Knoxville, Tennessee, went to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on March 28, 2024.

Tom was born in upstate New York. He attended Union College and graduated in 1975 with a B.S. in Chemistry and minors in Art and Physics. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry at Purdue University in 1979, where he met and married his wife and lifetime partner Juanita. They moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where Tom worked as a research scientist for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for more than a decade, specializing in indoor air quality.

Tom also achieved an additional Master’s in Translation in 2007, during his more than three decades with Wycliffe Bible Translators, working with native speaker colleagues from the Zinza, Digo, Rendille, Rangi, and other tribes in Kenya and Tanzania. He continued to work remotely via Zoom on projects up until his final hospitalization.

Tom loved his work. He trained translators in translation principles, and made huge contributions to developing scripture translations that were accurate to the original Greek and Hebrew and also clear and natural for the reader. He had the privilege of acting as consultant on the final checks of the Digo and Rendille New Testaments in Kenya, and the Rangi New Testament in Tanzania. Tom was also known for his practical skills, which equipped him to build a mud-brick home for his family on the shores of Lake Victoria, setting up solar electricity and basic plumbing. He was also well-versed in vehicle repair and maintenance. 

He loved music, and participated in many choirs, bands, and orchestras. He was an accomplished trombone player. Tom also loved to hike. He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, and was a frequent visitor to the Great Smoky Mountains.

Tom is survived by Juanita, his loving wife of 47 years, and their two children Tania (Mike) Soh and Cliff (Katie) Matthews, and brothers Ed (Betsy) Matthews and Jim (Sarah) Matthews. Tom’s immediate family wishes to extend their sincere appreciation to relatives and friends who researched, supported, and prayed with Tom and his family during his 5+ year battle with grade 4 cancer. Special thanks to Dr. Mitchell Martin and his team at Tennessee Cancer Specialists whose expert guidance and care made this possible. 

The family will receive guests at Grace Lutheran Church located at 9076 Middlebrook Pike, Knoxville, TN 37923 for a visitation on Saturday, April 13, from 9:00 – 11:00 AM EDT. The funeral service will be held in the same location at 11:00 AM EDT, and will also be available via livestream at 

An online guestbook is available to sign at

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you consider donating to Wycliffe Bible Translators to assist with work in the Sandawe and Mbugwe languages. Tom worked with both of these language groups. Donations can be made at the following website

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