Sunrise: August 14, 1915
Sunset: September 28, 1976
Rev. Rudolph G. Matthews grew up in Lakeland, Florida. He was born in Neeses, South Carolina, to Walter & Ethel Matthews. He was the second oldest child among three sisters, Alberta Matthews Kendly, Ruth Matthews Bird, and Doris Matthews Hernandez. He was a devoted husband (Chequita) and father (Tanya). He received his formal education at the following schools: Washington Park High School. Lakeland, FL. In High School, he played his favorite sport, football, and was a star player. He received an Associate of Arts Degree from Bethune-Cookman College, in 1937, a B. S. Degree in English Literature with a Minor in French, from Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA, and a Master of Science Degree in Physical Education in 1957 from Columbia University, New York City.
His employment experience includes the following: Teacher, public school system in Georgia, Head Coach at Edward Waters College, Jacksonville, Florida; he served in the European Theater of Operation during World War II and was honorably discharged with the rank of Master Sergeant. From 1946-1962, he served as Athletic Director and Coach of the Wildcats' football and basketball teams. From 1957-1976 he served as Assistant Professor of Health and Physical Education.
In 1957 God called him to preach the gospel. In 1964, he accepted the Pastorate of Mount Bethel Baptist Institutional Church in Daytona Beach. Because of his career with Bethune Cookman College, he would not accept a salary from the church. Under his ministry, the church increased to over 300 members.
Other service organization affiliations included: Daytona Beach City Commissioner, National Education Association, American Association of Health and Physical Education, Masonic Lodge #36, and Omega Psi Phi, just to name a few.
In 1986, he Posthumously received the following awards: the Florida Classic Award in recognition of distinguished contribution to athletics and education, and the Bethune Cookman College Inaugural Athletic Hall of Fame Award in 2000.
Bunky Matthews, as he was called by many, was a man that wore many hats. He was a football Legend whose shadow still looms over the college’s sports programs. He was the first Coach to give the Wildcats a Conference Championship. (SIAC) 1952, and the First Modern-day Coach to defeat Archrival Florida A & M. Several years ago, he was given the title of the winningest Coach in school history, compiling an 80-42-6 record in 14 seasons. Those who knew him, remember his poetry recitations, which continue to inspire people long after his death.
Rev. Matthews passed away on September 28, 1976.