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Preservation is key for museum chairwoman

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‘I’m not into history, but I’m into saving it,’ Mattice says

By Robert Villanueva

Starting out as a front desk volun­teer at the Hardin County History Museum, Judy Mattice didn’t quite plan to be where she is today: the organization’s latest chairwoman.

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“I backed into this job,” Mattice said.

By the same token, it might not come as a surprise to those who know Mattice that she took on the role.

Mattice, 70, also is treasurer of the Ancestral Trails Historical Society; secretary for the board at Sportsman Lake, a gated community; and secretary-treasurer for the Sportsman’s Lake Homeowners’ Association.

Additionally, she is a caregiver to her husband, who is in failing health.

“I started working in first grade,” Mattice said.

At the time, she was living in Wisconsin, and her neighbor had a kennel and show dogs. Mattice cleaned the kennels.

“I was a super-duper pooper scooper,” she said, laughing.

Mattice recalled she earned 25 cents an hour.

At age 11, she took care of the neighbor’s three children — the youngest of which was 6 weeks old — and 38 dogs. She would start Friday after school and stay there until it was time to go to school Monday morning.

Until 1985, when she moved to Kentucky, she lived in Milwaukee. Mattice lived in Glendale for a while before moving to Elizabethtown.

Along the way, Mattice said she developed an interest in antiques, collecting and selling them.

“My mother and dad were antique dealers,” she said, noting her father was an auctioneer.

For a while, Mattice worked for her dad.

“And if you can work for your father, you can work for anybody,” she said.

These days, Mattice maintains her interest in antiques, but she doesn’t specialize in any particular type of item.

“I’ll buy and sell anything I can make money on,” she said.

For Mattice, her hobby reflects her belief in the value of things that have withstood the test of time, not unlike her involvement with the Hardin County History Museum.

“I’m not into history, but I’m into saving it,” she said.

In her role as chairwoman of the Hardin County History Museum, which she began at the end of March, Mattice takes on projects ranging from helping coordinate others who create displays to organizing fundraisers, such as the organization’s first poker run created this year for Cruisin’ the Heartland.

The latter project involved acquiring a gaming license, which she was told would take about six months, Mattice said. She got it in less than six weeks.

During the two-day Cruisin’ event, Mattice found her volunteer spirit came in very handy.

“I probably put in 24 hours,” she said.

Like many volunteers, Mattice credits others with providing good teamwork, specifically other volunteers.

“We’ve got such wonderful people,” she said.

Among the things she hopes for the museum are cosmetic improvements, more volunteers and more historical items to display.

“A lot of this is on loan from private individuals,” she said while standing in the museum.

Often those who come into the museum are amazed by the community’s rich history, Mattice said. She would like more people to know about it, too, because many Hardin County residents don’t realize what is there.

“And I want to get young kids interested in history,” she said.

Creating student programs is something she’d like to do.

Elvin Smith Jr., museum tours chairman and board member, credited Mattice as being an active chairwoman and volunteer.

“She’ll volunteer for anything and everything,” Smith said.

Additionally, he said, Mattice is always around to help others. She seems to always have her hands full, too.

That seems to be the way Mat­tice prefers it.

“If you keep busy, you don’t get old,” she said.

Robert Villanueva can be reached at 270-505-1743 or rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.

A FEW FACTS ABOUT JUDY MATTICE

  • City of birth: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Favorite music: Country, oldies
  • Favorite movie: “On Golden Pond”
  • Favorite TV shows: History Channel programming, “Antiques Roadshow” and “American Pickers”
  • Oldest item she owns: Civil War-era notebook made of ivory with ivory pages