Victoria D. Matthews
Some knew her as a daring world class skipper; some knew her as an athletically tireless road cyclist; folks in Southport knew her as Garden Club President; her friends and family knew her as Adventure Vic or when she was very young, as Blip.
Sadly, Victoria Dewise Matthews left us all, Friday, February 10. She died in the comfort of her home in Miami while holding hands with her husband and best friend, Randall White.
Vickie was born in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, April 30, 1957. As a child she excelled in school, both academically and as a leader among kids, serving on the Safety Patrol and occasionally as a substitute for her teacher. Her diligent piano lessons paid off with state championships and since her piano teacher was also her church’s organist, teenage Vickie became an occasional substitute organist.
Although music captivated Vickie, the family’s Lightning Class sailboat became an obsession. More than once, Vickie would play organ for the morning service, doff her choir robe wearing a bikini underneath, and bike to the lake to race the Lightning. Her passion for cycling and sailing was to continue throughout her life.
After attending Marquette, Vickie held professional positions that drew on her management skills and leadership, including with architects DeStefano Partners and the investigating and risk consulting firm, Kroll—both in Chicago. She served as President of the Lincoln Park Association.
But Vickie worked to sail. On flat water and open ocean swells, sailing was her true vocation. She became a sought-after crew member with some of the top names in competitive sailing, including Buddy Melges, Bruce Goldsmith, Ed Baird, Larry Klein, Betsy Alison, and Betsy Barrett (Altman). She landed her dream job as manager of Buddy Melges’ boat yard—and would go on to be his favorite spinnaker trimmer. In 1983, while with Baird and Klein, Vickie competed in the Pan Am Games in Caracas, Venezuela. In 2007, her all-female crew skippered by Betsy Altman, won US Sailing’s Adams Cup. The cup, inscribed with Vickie’s name, is now retired in the US Sailing Hall of Fame.
Vickie competed in regattas from Nova Scotia to San Diego. She sailed the Baltic Sea and circumnavigated the United Kingdom. She is a member of the Storm Trysail Club, and it was through sailing that Vickie met her soulmate and husband, Randy later joining him in Southport—a home that became the basecamp to adventures, both land and sea.
Vickie and Randy pedaled 150 miles per week, on local roads and during vacations abroad in Europe and the UK. They hiked in Kenya—a particularly memorable adventure because they were chased by a rhino. During times back in North America she served as a US Sailing Regional Race Officer—a position she loved. For several years she and Randy split time between Coconut Grove, Florida, and Southport until moving to their new home on Grove Isle in Miami last Spring.
Then came a challenge nobody welcomed: in August 2022, Vickie was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer, instantly turning her life inside out and upside down.
Even in the face of overwhelming odds, Vickie did not give up. She made it her mission to contribute to finding a cure for pancreatic cancer. She participated in a clinical research trial and while in treatment dedicated her time toward raising money and awareness for pancreatic cancer. She was planning to cycle in the upcoming Dolphin Cancer Challenge and to enter a second trial before her recent transition to Hospice.
Between chemotherapy and medical appointments, Vickie never stopped being Vickie—she continued cycling and taught herself to paddle board; she cooked fantastic meals and tried new recipes. In her last months, she hosted countless friends and family who came to say their goodbyes, she continued her customary holiday practice of making all her Christmas cards by hand, and she painted a stash of watercolor cards for Randy’s future use.
Vickie lived a very full and meaningful life until the end. She never gave up, never faltered, and her characteristic positivity and tenacity were steadfast until her death. She never ceased to amaze her family, and those fortunate enough to spend this time with her saw firsthand how a hero looks. Vickie was graceful and courageous, loving and yet still a badass.
Although heartbroken, Adventure Vic’s family and friends find solace in the knowledge that she is no longer in pain.
Vickie is survived by her husband, Dr. Randall P. White (Miami); her stepdaughters, Dr. Jessica White-Phillip, and husband William (Fayetteville, NC), and Logan White (Wauwatosa, WI); her parents Eugene and Jane Matthews, (Hot Springs Village, AR); her brother and sister-in-law Matt and Kris Matthews, (West Bend, WI) and her nieces and nephews.
On May 4-5, the Carolina Yacht Club, Wrightsville Beach is dedicating the 2023 US Pan Am Trials to Vickie. Plans for a service at the trials and later in the year at Coral Reef Yacht Club in Miami have yet to be finalized.
If you would like to make a donation in Vickie’s memory, she chose three charities:
Dolphin Cancer Challenge Ride https://dolphins.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donate.team&teamID=6388
Sail to Prevail https://sailtoprevail.org/support/
or WHQR, the National public radio station in Wilmington, North Carolina https://whqr-web.memsys.com/donate/
Photo caption: Left: 2014 Vickie circumnavigating the United Kingdom. Right: 2023 Vickie at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami, while in treatment.