Obituary: Gareth Matthews, professor emeritus of Philosophy

Gareth (Gary) B. Matthews, 81, of Amherst, professor emeritus of Philosophy, died April 17 in Boston of colon cancer.

Born in Buenos Aires, where his parents were missionaries, he spent his childhood in Jackson, Tenn., and his adolescence in Franklin, Ind., receiving his A.B. from Franklin College in 1951. He received his M.A. from Harvard in 1952. After studying at Tubingen and the Free University of Berlin, and serving in an intelligence unit in Germany in the U.S. Navy, he received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1961.

He was an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Virginia from 1960-61 and assistant, then associate professor at the University of Minnesota from 1961-69. In 1967-68, he held the George Santayana Fellowship in Philosophy at Harvard.

In 1969, he joined the Philosophy Department as a full professor and continued to teach there until his death. Although he retired officially some six years ago, he continued on as professor emeritus, lecturing and serving as the department''s undergraduate advisor. He continued to write and participate in academic conferences around the world until shortly before his death. He was prevented by illness from reading a paper at a conference in Iran this past March, and was writing a book on philosophical method and the nature of dialectic at the time of his death.

He was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and received honorary doctorates from Franklin College and the University of Hamburg. His work focused on ancient and medieval philosophy (especially Aristotle and Augustine), but he also taught medical ethics and pioneered and championed the art of doing philosophy with children.

His books "Philosophy and the Young Child," "Dialogues with Children" and "The Philosophy of Childhood" have been translated into numerous languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Hebrew and Turkish, as well as various European languages. He conducted philosophical discussions with elementary school children all over the world, including China, Israel, Japan, Australia, Norway and Scotland, and elementary school curricula throughout Germany have been influenced by his work.

He leaves his wife, Mary, and his children Sarah, Rebecca and John, and seven grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to Brigham and Women''s Hospital, Development Office, 116 Huntington Ave., 5th Floor, Boston 02116.