Carolyn Josephine Botkin Mattax (1925-2020), an accomplished pianist, organist, and violinist, passed away peacefully in her sleep on March 18, 2020 at Belmont Village in Houston. She was 94.
Born the third of four children on November 25, 1925 in Tulsa, Oklahoma to William and Carol Botkin, Carolyn began her career as a professional musician at the age of 15. She earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in Music and English from the University of Tulsa and Louisiana State University, graduating in 1951. In 2000, she established the Carolyn Botkin Mattax Endowed Professorship at LSU to restore emphasis on the organ program and provide a future for the 500-year-old art form.
As an organist, she was a dedicated church musician, playing for parishes of all denominations as well as Jewish temples, where her talent and understanding of the liturgy brought joy to many. After living in Bordeaux, France for eighteen months, Carolyn and her family moved to Houston, where she served as organist at Holy Rosary Catholic Church for over 33 years, retiring at the age of 93. In the course of her tenure there, she re-introduced the Latin Mass. A gifted teacher, Carolyn also taught music and English in the Houston Independent School District for over 30 years.
Listed in Who’s Who Among American Women, Carolyn was a member of the American Guild of Organists, Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity, and Chapelwood United Methodist Church, where she lifted hearts with her lovely soprano voice.
She had an exceptional mind, and was as passionate about the stock market as playing a game of bridge or dominos. Incessantly curious, she loved learning—about art, other cultures, history, and so many other subjects. Her creativity was evident even in mundane tasks, such as using solfège, a musical scale, to memorize telephone numbers.
Carolyn is preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Calvin C. Mattax, a brilliant scientist with whom she enjoyed 59 years of marriage, and her cherished son, David Mattax, a successful lawyer and Texas Commissioner of Insurance at the time of his death in 2017. She is survived by her three daughters, Carol Curry (Los Angeles), a retired engineer and former Senior Vice President at Raytheon; Charlotte Mattax Moersch (Champaign, Illinois), a professional harpsichordist and Professor of Music at the University of Illinois; and Cathy Mattax (Washington, DC), a retired business executive and former Senior Vice President at FINRA; five grandchildren, Alanna, Diana, Graham, Arden, and Zoe; and eight great-grandchildren.
Carolyn was beloved for her altruism, passion for music, and dedication to her children; she will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
Farewell, Carolyn—A Blessing to All.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, August 6th at 11 a.m. at Chapelwood United Methodist Church, 11140 Greenbay St. Houston, TX 77024.