Beloved Opelika piano teacher dies after testing positive for COVID-19

Updated: May. 19, 2020 at 7:32 PM EDT
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OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - A well-known and cherished East Alabama music teacher died after testing positive for coronvirus last month.

Loved ones of Carl Mathews said his impact extends throughout the community, after sharing his love of classical music and education for decades.

A tattered music book belonging to Mathews sits on the piano of one of his former students, a reminder of the musical gifts he shared with dozens throughout his life.

“To have that kind of gift and talent, I was just blown out of my mind,” said Charles Bonner, a former student of Mathews. “I think that was one of my foundations to pursue music.”

Mathews died at the age of 92 after testing positive for Coronavirus in April. His family, former students and the community were heartbroken from the loss.

“[I was] floored, devastated to think about an icon of that nature and his ability has left us,” Bonner said.

Bonner played Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, one of Matthews favorites, for News Leader 9.

Another former student, Elaine Burton, described her favorite quality of his.

“He was always willing to play,” she said. “Even when you didn’t think he would. And that gift, that willingness to share his gift was very impactful.”

The Korean War Veteran was an accomplished organist and pianist who played at many at churches in the area for decades.

His niece said he was dedicated to education and to teaching piano and helping others find a love in music.

She said he continued playing the piano and directing a choir well into his 90s while living at the veterans home in Alexander City.

“He would always come down in the lobby and play Christmas music,” Wisteria Williams said. “So, they got a piano for him to play and I know that’s something they’re going to absolutely miss.”

Mathews was originally from Lafayette, Alabama.

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