Samuel “Sam” Mattison, a senior multimedia journalism and political science student from Montgomery, passed away on Sept. 6 due to health complications with diabetes and pneumonia.
Born March 8, 1996, Mattison was 22 years old.
“He’s gone too quick, but I know he enjoyed his life,” said Lynn Mattison, Sam Mattison’s mother. “Samuel was a very smart, inquisitive child. You know, he was very fiercely independent. I knew that from the start.”
Sam’s mother recalled taking Sam to his first day of kindergarten, when Sam insisted he walk in alone. Lynn Mattison objected and told Sam she would get into trouble with the teacher if she allowed him to go in alone, to which he obliged her wish and walked in with her.
“He told me many years later, ‘Mom! You didn’t have to walk me in,’” Sam’s mother added. “So he fussed at me on that, that’s for sure. Samuel was special. I knew that from a very early age.”
Sam Mattison played guitar and cello in middle school. While as a child his dry sense of humor, quick wit and ability to make anyone laugh caused his mother to think he might pursue a career in comedy, Sam found his passion in journalism.
Sam Mattison attended Booker T. Washington Magnet High School (BTW) in the broadcast media department. There, Sam met longtime friend Justin Blowers, also a student at BTW, whom Sam convinced to study broadcast media. Blowers is now a Troy journalism alumnus.
The two remained friends and eventually roomed together at Troy. The friends also took several classes together and helped one another improve their writing.
“We’d regularly meet up for lunch,” Blowers said. “Even after I graduated, we would still have lunch and just talk about what was happening in the world, talk about new assignments, what we were doing, what our plans were — things like that.”
Blowers said he would miss Sam Mattison’s sense of humor, as well as the dynamic of their friendship.
“I’m going to miss how we played off each other really well,” Blowers said.
Sam Mattison attended Troy’s annual J-Day event his junior year of high school, where he decided Troy was where he wanted to attend college.
“He knew he belonged in Troy … he loved Troy a lot, he just really did,” said Lynn Mattison.
Sam Mattison recently spent time working as a political reporter on the Alabama Legislature for Alabama Political Reporter (APR).
“He loved his job, he loved the Legislature, he loved being down there, he was very proud of that press pass that he had,” Lynn Mattison said. “You know, he just enjoyed being in the midst of everything and he enjoyed writing his articles.”
“He was a smart dude, a talented writer — one of the best writers I’ve ever met,” Blowers said. “He was really good in photojournalism.”
Sam Mattison had just begun dabbling in photography after receiving a camera for Christmas. Sam’s mother said he enjoyed taking photos of the Legislature for APR.
Another important aspect of Sam’s life that he held dear was his Native American heritage. The family took a trip to the West in 2011 to meet family members of Native American descent. Sam Mattison’s father is full-blooded Native American, his father being Shoshone-Bannock of Idaho and his mother being Ute of Utah.
Though his grandfather passed, Sam Mattison’s grandmother currently resides on a Ute reservation in Utah.
“We got to show him a little bit of his heritage when he was 15,” Lynn Mattison said.
Before his health complications turned for the worse, Sam Mattison was pursuing a double major at Troy.
According to Hal Fulmer, associate provost and dean of undergraduate studies, the university awarded Sam Mattison a bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism after his death. He was working on a second major in political science at the time of his passing.
“That would make Sam proud,” Lynn Mattison said.
Blowers said he knew Sam Mattison would have been successful whether pursuing politics, journalism or both.
“He was going to be a hell of a force in whatever field he went into,” Blowers said.