Ed Matheny has chronicled — and witnessed — history.
Ed Matheny is Kansas City to the core.
Although he was born in Chicago, played basketball at Mizzou, studied law at Harvard and served in the Pacific theater during World War II, he spent nearly every remaining year in the City of Fountains.
So as a chronicler of some lesser-known KC histories — those of a law firm, a high school, a hospital and a TV station — he usually has a first-person perspective.
“I was a voracious reader, a history buff, an English minor and an admirer of Don Faurot,” says Matheny, retired partner at Husch Blackwell LLP. “It was fortuitous that Mizzou had such a good history department.”
Matheny, BA ’44, arrived in Columbia in 1940 to play hoops for Coach George Edwards. He recalls listening with his fraternity brothers at the Sigma Chi house as the radio delivered the news of Japan’s Pearl Harbor attack.
“The basketball team had a West Coast train trip scheduled,” Matheny says. “My big concern at that age was, ‘Will they call off the trip?’ They did not.”
His perspective changed after college when Matheny served under two U.S. Navy admirals: Chester William Nimitz and Raymond Spruance. Matheny was a plotting officer in both leaders’ navigational control rooms during the war’s final years.
“We’d mark the ships and follow the battles,” says Matheny, whose stellar MU grades got him noticed. “They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and when the top brass wanted to know what was going on, they’d come and look at our chart.”
After the war and Harvard Law School, Matheny landed at Caldwell, Downing, Noble & Garrity (now Husch Blackwell) in 1949. He has written six books and is working on a seventh about the Kansas City stockyards.