Lawrence and Marilyn Matteson

Lawrence and Marilyn Matteson

Award Winner


After his high school graduation in 1948, Lawrence Matteson and his brother Eugene went to work cutting timber along the Mississippi and Skunk Rivers. Throughout the '50s and '60s, Matteson used his natural ability for machine engineering to work in production, machining, and maintenance at J.I. Case Company and Murray Ironworks in Burlington, all while maintaining the family farm. In 1970, Matteson became a heavy equipment operator, building and moving machinery, and maintaining the fertilizer containment ponds at First Miss fertilizer company near his home. Two years later he bought a used dredge and signed a contract to maintain First Miss' containment ponds and barge loading facility along the Mississippi River. He picked up additional work digging ponds and removing silt from lakes and soon purchased a second dredge.

Matteson developed a reputation as an innovator, one of his strongest competitive advantages. Some projects involved designing and building machinery from scratch that could remove millions of cubic yards of sand and silt and push it through huge portable pipes over a mile long. L.W. Matteson Company would go on to become the largest fresh water dredging and marine construction company in the US.

After selling the dredging half of his business in 2011, he and his wife Marilyn decided to "experience the joy of giving while living." Their first gift was $10 million to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN to support a cancer treatment education and research. Next was $1 million dollar gift to their local hospital's emergency room renovation. Then, with a worker shortage in the skilled trades affecting the Mattesons' ability to hire quality employees at their marine construction firm, they established technical and health scholarships to benefit Southeastern Community College students and students from southeast Iowa who are pursuing an education in career technical or health programs. Since 2012, nearly $500,000 in Matteson awards have helped more than 300 students. They also fund four continuing scholarships for bachelor degree completion.

In 2014 the Mattesons pledged $3.5 million to SCC's Building the Dream campaign. It is the largest gift ever received by SCC and it motivated others to give so that SCC could achieve its $12 million campaign goal.

The Mattesons have humbly used their affluence and influence to directly benefit SCC, its students and the communities it serves by supporting facilities improvements, career program updates, student scholarships, donor recognition, and workforce development.