WEIRTON - Area officials are remembering Barbara Matey, a long-time business and community leader, following her death Sunday after a long illness.
Known primarily as the vice president of human resources at Hancock County Savings Bank, Matey also was involved in many local organizations, often looking for ways to help others in need or provide opportunities to learn.
"Barbara was a remarkable woman of great intelligence, beautiful spirit and a deep love of the Ohio Valley and Weirton in particular," goddaughter Nicole Balakos said, noting many of the friends, family and colleagues who visited Matey in her last few weeks relayed stories of how she had been there for them and made an impact on their lives. "She met many through her work that became lifelong friends. Her passing is one that will have a great impact on many committees and activities in the community. She was so often the person behind the scenes that helped to make an event look easy."
Longtime co-worker and friend Catherine Ferrari, president and chief executive officer of Hancock County Savings Bank, relayed Matey's constant dedication to education and willingness to give back.
"Barbara was an outstanding communicator, an educator and a community liaison," Ferrari said. "She was an inspiration to those who knew her. She made a tremendous impact in our community by volunteering her time and talents. Barbara was most in her element when she was training and teaching both inside and outside of the bank. Her integrity, enthusiasm, kindness and wisdom made her a natural leader. A truly remarkable person, her life was a reflection of her love for God, family, and community. She will be missed."
After graduating from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Matey began teaching with the South Allegheny School District in McKeesport, Pa. Later, she would continue her own education, earning a masters degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate from West Virginia University.
For many years, Matey served at positions with West Virginia Northern Community College as a member of the college's faculty, taking charge of several programs and handling public relations. She also headed up various training programs for the former Weirton Steel Corp.
Her passion for education continued into other aspects of her community service, including her work with the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce, where she spent many years on the Education Committee, including serving as its chair, and helping to organize the chamber's Youth Leadership Weirton and High School Business Symposium programs.
"Losing Barbara Matey is a terrible loss for our community. She was all about giving and she cared. I think it was the teacher instilled in her. For many years, Barb was the energy behind our Leadership programs and High School Business Symposium. She was instrumental in their success," Weirton Chamber President Brenda Mull said. "But the loss is not just professional, it's personal. Barbara was my friend. To say I am saddened she is gone, doesn't begin to cover it. I will miss her. She wouldn't want her friends to be sad, so I will remember her bright smile and cheerful attitude."
Kristin Bowman-Cross, executive director of the Weirton United Way, called Matey's death a great loss to the community and the citizens of Weirton. Matey often chaired the United Way's annual Women's Golf Classic and worked on a variety of other volunteer projects.
"She truly dedicated much of her life to helping others. She was an asset to the Weirton United Way in which her loss will be difficult to replace," she said.
For many years Matey served on the parish council of Holy Resurrection Serbian Eastern Orthodox Church, often as the council secretary, as well as many years on the board of the Serbian American Cultural Center and a member of her church's Petar Krstich Choir.
Matey also provided her time to the Weirton Salvation Army, volunteering each year to ring the bell during the holiday kettle drive, assisting the Hancock County Animal Shelter, Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, the Rockefeller Career Center and the Hancock County Sheltered Workshop among many other area organizations.
"Barb always made herself available to help the Workshop in any way she could," Sheltered Workshop Executive Director Michael Hagg said. "Recently she led myself and board members to develop a five-year strategic plan for the Workshop which will be a valuable tool in the advancement of opportunities for people with disabilities in Hancock County. Barb was a true friend to the Sheltered Workshop and the community in general. She will be greatly missed."
Matey leaves behind her husband, Art; brother-in-law Eugene Matey, his wife Anna Mae and their family; sister-in-law Nancy Saxon and her sons John and Richard and their families; her godchildren Nicole Balakos and Denise Stewart and their families; as well as many friends, coworkers and extended family members.