Nov. 20, 1964—March 1, 2014
Michael Benjamin Mattis, 49, a 1983 graduate of Davis High School, died in his sleep Saturday, March 1, 2014. Mattis, a graduate of San Francisco State University in journalism, has been a resident of San Francisco since 1986. He was employed in the computer marketing field with a number of firms.
Born in Woodland on Nov. 20, 1964, young Michael enjoyed romping about on his grandmother’s Sutter County farm, paddling a kayak at his grandfather’s Newport Beach home and playing Dungeons and Dragons with neighborhood children. While in high school, he performed in Acme Theater productions, including “The Admirable Crichton.” At this time, he became involved with The Society of Creative Anachronism, learning to sword fight and shape steel armor. From there, he advanced to fencing with epee and saber, a hobby he continued in college.
Upon moving to San Fancisco, Mattis enrolled at San Francisco City College to study journalism and English history, and was employed by American Rag clothing store.
At San Francisco State, Mattis continued his studies in journalism, writing, history and the arts. He spent a year in Great Britain on a student loan program to study English history. Upon graduation he held a number of writing and marketing positions with a variety of firms, including Upside Magazine, Business 2.0, Nokia (Helsinki), Yahoo, Disney (Los Angeles) and Pandora. He created blogs on wine and travel, the latter being an ongoing effort.
A Bartending School graduate, he learned the ways of San Francisco while employed at Enrico’s, and later joined a group which opened the bar and venue Café DuNord. He would occasionally entertain by opening a bottle of champagne with a sword.
Mattis was active in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, E Clampus Vitus, Elks Club and many other social and historic associations. He was an original director of The Emperor’s Bridge Campaign to name the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge For Emperor Norton. His many activities over the years included, but certainly were not limited to, sky diving, hiking, traveling, surfing, paddle-boarding and sailing. He has written on a diverse range of subjects including San Francisco and English history and Dandyism.
A recent two-week sail aboard the Lady Washington out of San Francisco was a high point in his sailing career. He also enjoyed joining the annual early morning party at Lotta’s Fountain in honor of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake survivors, croquet parties on the Green, serving breakfasts and dinners to the poor, partaking of high tea at The Palace and debating an obscure Orson Wilde or Patrick O’Brien Equally He was at ease in describing a windy sail on San Francisco Bay, the details of a Cape Canaveral missile launch or conflicts in early British history. He loved a spirited, adventurous life, loved taking its measure, loved partaking of all its enjoyments and loved conquering the inner fears that many of us hold. And he loved dressing for the part, too, being an expert in men’s fashion.
He is survived by his father Michael G. Mattis, sisters Kristina and Karen, niece April Guerrero, and great-nephew Nathaniel Fechner, all of Davis. He also is survived by numerous cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews who reside in Northern California, Nevada, Texas and Florida.
A service will begin at 11 a.m. Monday, March 10, in the Wiscombe Funeral Home, 116 D St., Davis, followed by a reception at the International House, Fifth and College Way. In lieu of flowers, donations in his name may be made to the Elks National Foundation (http://wwwelks.org/ENF).
A celebration of life will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 16, in the San Francisco Elk Club.