After a hard-fought battle with aggressive cancer, Paula Kathryn Matchen passed from her earthly life on Wednesday, July 3, 2019 at the age of 66. Visitation will begin at 6:00 PM followed by a family rosary beginning at 7:00 PM, Monday, July 8, 2019 at Elmwood Funeral Home, 5750 Hwy 277 South, Abilene. The Funeral Mass will be at 11:00 AM, Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 837 Jeanette St., Abilene. She leaves behind a legacy of faith and love to her adoring family.
Born in Austin, Texas on January 23, 1953 to Eugene and Kathryn Russell, Paula spent her childhood dancing, playing outdoors and rescuing every stray animal that crossed her path. Her smile brightened the room and her fun-loving personality endeared her to all she met. Paula married Monroe Matchen on December 8, 1973 in Lampasas, and the couple would have celebrated 46 years of marriage this year. They centered their life on their strong Catholic faith and raising kind and accomplished children. Always mindful of others, Paula fostered a welcoming home and gave 100% of herself in everything that she did. She was a skilled seamstress and florist and she used those talents to serve others. Whether making wedding dresses for family members, or creating flower arrangements for the hospice nurses who cared for her in the last months, Paula’s love knew no end. Having experienced an unplanned pregnancy at the age of 18, and making the loving choice of adoption for her son (Shawn), Paula was passionate about protecting the unborn and supporting women in similar situations. Paula began “West Texans for Life” and brought the first 40 Days for Life campaign to Abilene, which precipitated the closing of the Planned Parenthood abortion facility there. She deeply valued her Catholic faith and was instrumental in bringing monthly All-Night Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament to churches in both Abilene and Sweetwater. She started a children’s choir at her church and participated in prison ministry. Her greatest professional achievement was owning and operating Mystical Rose Catholic Books and Gifts.
Second only to her love for Christ and devotion to the Blessed Mother, Paula adored her family. Her five children and 14 precious grandchildren brought her untold joy. Known as “Nana,” she was the light in their lives and made an everlasting impact on each of their souls. She will be profoundly missed. Paula leaves behind her husband, Monroe Matchen; five children, Shawn (Toni Rejcek), Desiree (Allan Wright), Amber (Nick Dolle), Jordan (Tricia Matchen), and Kelsey (Megan Matchen); 14 grandchildren, Christine, Cameron, Sophia, John Paul, Cataleen, Andrew, Abigail, Cecilia, Colette, Ambrose, Joseph, Gianna, Athanasius and Edward; sister, Denise (Matt Fisch); brothers, Kerry (Lee Ogburn Russell) and Phil (Sandy Russell); and numerous nieces and nephews. Paula was preceded in death by her parents, Eugene F. Russell and Kathryn M. Humphries Russell, her sister, Cynthia J. Baughn, and her nephew, Kerry Patrick Baughn.