Ben B. and Hermine M. Mathews Prelaw Scholarship
Hermine Muller Mathews was a gracious woman. Her gentle Christian spirit permeated her many relationships and her every activity, and yet she had a mind of her own. With her clear view of right versus wrong, she stood her ground when the situation called for it. She was a fascinating, intelligent woman who was loved and admired by everyone who knew her.
Hermine’s background partly explains her gracious personality and other qualities. She was born and spent her childhood in the farming community of New Castle, Pennsylvania. Her father, an immigrant from Austria-Hungary, was a mill foreman at the steel company in nearby Ellwood City. He arranged for Hermine to begin her career as a stenographer there. Because she was good at what she did, she moved into a steno position in a law office and eventually moved west. While she was working in a Tucson law office she met her future husband, Ben B. Mathews, an attorney in civil law. Married in 1942, they moved to Southern California and enjoyed what she described as a storybook, loving, 35-year marriage until his death in 1977.
Ben was an outstanding trial lawyer, respected by his contemporaries and clients alike. As a man of integrity and compassion, with an unshakable belief in God, high moral standards, and a contagiously cheerful personality, he endeared himself to everyone. Although born and raised in the South, Ben was proud of his Scottish-English background. He loved his chosen profession but made this one firm disclaimer: “I would never practice criminal law because I could not represent a client I felt was guilty.”
Family was extremely important to Hermine and Ben. They had no children of their own but “adopted” everyone in the Mathews clan. One unheralded success on Ben’s part following retirement was his eight-year project to “liberate”25 of Hermine’s Muller relatives who lived in countries that were then considered to be behind the Iron Curtain. He managed to bring seven tired families out of Transylvania, Romania, resettling them near Munich, West Germany.
Hermine’s relationship with CLU came about through her nephew, Dr. Mark Mathews, CLU’s third president. Although her background was Presbyterian, Hermine chose California Lutheran University as the focus of her considerable philanthropy. Eventually, she created and endowed four scholarships, the second of which was in memory of her husband Ben.
Out of respect for Ben, Hermine insisted that the Ben B. Mathews Prelaw Scholarship, as it was initially titled, should never be awarded to a student intending to study criminal law. The recipient must be a student planning to study civil law. A few years before Hermine’s death in 2005, she requested that her name be added to the title of this scholarship, now known and awarded as the Ben B. and Hermine M. Mathews Prelaw Scholarship.