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Obituaries » Dr. Stephen Matyas Jr.

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July 19, 1940 - May 24, 2023

A funeral service to honor and celebrate his life will be held on Saturday, June 3, 2023, at 11:00 AM at Joldersma & Klein (J&K) Funeral Home, 917 S. Burdick St., Kalamazoo, MI 49001. Interment will follow with military honors at Mount Ever-Rest Memorial Park, Kalamazoo, MI.  Visitation hours will take place at J&K Funeral Home on Friday, June 2, 2023 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM & 5:00 to 7:00 PM. Memorial contributions (tribute) in Stephen’s memory may be given to: Parkinson’s Foundation ( or, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research ( Friends and family may share a condolence message online at

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Died May 24, 2023. Dr. Matyas was born July 19, 1940, in Kalamazoo, MI, son of Stephen M. and Helen M. (Spoor) Matyas and the grandson of Stephen and Magdalena (Zekany) Matyas who immigrated to the United States from Hungary in 1909 – settling in the small Hungarian community started in Kalamazoo in the early 1900s. Dr. Matyas was a man of many interests. While growing up, he became a pigeon fancier and breeder of Birmingham Roller pigeons both Flying/Sporting and Fancy types, winning a number of awards for his excellent birds. He was a falconer: for several years, he kept and trained a red-tailed hawk. He was also a pianist and composer of classical piano music. He began his piano training at age five, later studying under Mr. Glen Henderson in Kalamazoo. Ten pieces of music created in 2015-16 for his KAWAI Concert Performer digital piano have been preserved on digital recording media and are held by family members. Dr. Matyas graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School in 1958, with honors, and was awarded WMU’s Fox Scholarship in Physics. He earned a BS degree from WMU in 1962, with majors in physics, chemistry, and mathematics. He served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy 1962-67, where he earned his naval aviator wings. He served as a helicopter pilot aboard the U.S.S. America CVA -66 and the U.S.S. Shangri-La CV-38 and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. He also earned a commercial pilot’s license. Dr. Matyas joined IBM in 1967 and, in 1970, he was granted a 4-year leave of absence to attend graduate school. In 1974, he received a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from the Univ. of Iowa, writing the first doctoral thesis on the subject of Cryptography in the U.S. Returning to IBM, he worked in IBM’s Cryptography Center of Competence, where he helped design IBM’s first line of cryptographic products. He was an inventor and co-inventor on 99 filed patents applications. For this work, he received IBM’s Federal System Co. President’s Patent Award, and the IBM Outstanding Innovation Award. He authored many technical publications, including co-authoring the book ‘Cryptography – A New Dimension in Computer Data Security,’ which later received the Amer. Assoc. of Publishers ‘Best Book in Technology’ award for 1982, and was a contributing author to McGraw-Hill’s Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. He retired as a Distinguished Engineer from IBM’s Research Division, in 2001. He then joined Personal Path Systems, NJ as a Chief Cryptographer, retiring in 2003. Dr. Matyas was also a serious collector of rare books. In 2009, he wrote and published ‘A checklist of books, pamphlets, and periodicals printing the Declaration of Independence, 1776-1825’, in 692 pages, based on his collection of rare DOI books. As a consequence of this bibliographic work, he was invited to become a member of the prestigious American Antiquarian Society. That same year, he won the ‘WIN A BOOKSELLER’ contest sponsored by the Advanced Book exchange – one of roughly 200 entrants. Each entrant submitted an essay describing his/her book collecting interest. Dr. Matyas’ winning essay described his rare DOI collection. Early on, Dr. Matyas became intrigued and fascinated by the story of the Beale Treasure, which is based on three numerical ciphers. He researched the matter for more than 40 years. In 2011, he wrote and published two books on the subject: Beale Treasure Story, the Hoax Theory Deflated and Beale Treasure Story, New Insights. Copies of his books and other writings were donated to the Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, VA. On November 9, 1962, in Pensacola, FL, he married Sandra Lea Canter, Kalamazoo, MI, who survives. Surviving are an adopted daughter Ophelia Ham (a.k.a. Sally Matyas) Brooklyn, NY, and a son Stephen Michael Matyas III (Julie), a grandson John Stephen (Jack) Matyas, a grandson Benjamin Michael (Ben) Matyas, and a granddaughter Katherine Elizabeth (Kate) Matyas, all of Herndon, VA, 4 nephews, 1 niece, and several cousins. Preceding him in death were his Father Stephen M. Matyas Sr., 1983, his mother Helen M. Matyas, 1986, a sister Linda DeVries (Jack), 1972, all of Kalamazoo, a sister Beverly (Mallory, Blair) Fair, 2005, a niece Cheryl (Mallory) Parise, 2007, and a niece Connie (Morgan) Koubaitary, 2019. Dr. Matyas grew up in the First Baptist Church, Kalamazoo, MI, where he was baptized. He and his wife Sandra were long time members of the First Baptist Church, Poughkeepsie, NY.