Peter, surrounded by his family, died peacefully after a short illness. A lifelong resident of Aquidneck Island, Peter spent his childhood with his parents, George and Helen Piltz, in Middletown, Rhode Island. He attended St. Michael’s School in Newport before beginning at St. George’s School in 1962, graduating in 1966. While at St. George’s he excelled in athletics, being named to the All-State Prep Football Team, and was elected Captain of the baseball team. After graduation, Peter attended Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia where he majored in philosophy and was on the football team.
While always interested in music, in 1970 he followed his passion and devoted himself to the study and practice of guitar and vocals. Further, he took his initial steps in performing. He expanded his performing experiences and developed an extensive guitar instruction practice for private and school-based students, including those of St. George’s, Portsmouth Abbey and Salve Regina, among others. Over the next few decades, Peter became a prominent presence in the Newport music scene, including the well-known duos Melville Rockwell, Nancy and Peter, Peter and Jen, and most recently, the group Doin’ Time. He and Jen also gave a performance at the 100th Anniversary of St. George’s, attended by well over 1000 people. He composed, recorded and produced two CDs, one entitled “Dangerous Ground” by Doin’ Time, and another entitled “Melting” by Peter and Jen.
In about 2004, Peter formed a performance studio for youth held weekly for several years at Rocco’s Little Italy in Portsmouth, RI, called the Clam Jam. Peter was always mostly interested in encouraging young musicians and was especially proud of the Clam Jam and of the rock bands he created and coached at St. George’s School.
In 2010, Peter was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease which eventually limited his abilities to engage in his avocation and greatest love; music. As his teaching responsibilities were reduced, he also transitioned from playing and performing to listening and studying the history of the musicians he so admired; especially The Beatles.
In the last year, as his strength and stamina diminished, Peter was able to appreciate the simple joys of life, and, although the illness was taking its toll, he did not complain, nor question “why me”; rather he focused on the many friends and strong family with which he had been blessed. Always demonstrating his sense of humor and laughing at himself when he was experiencing physical difficulties.
In the end, Peter was able to depart this life, peacefully, with loved ones at his bedside, knowing that he had achieved much and left so many with multiple memories of the lovable and generous personality he demonstrated throughout his life. As one of his dear friends remarked, “Peter was the Philosopher King” living his life as he desired as the quintessential “happy, charming, peripatetic minstrel”. We will miss him tremendously but will treasure the friend we knew.
….. and in his life, he loved them all….
Peter is survived by his sisters, Leslie Matson of Tiverton; Joan Matson of Middletown; and Sally Fullerton and her husband Rick of Middletown. He is also survived by his brothers, John Matson and his wife Sharon of Warwick, and William Matson and his partner Dawn Roubidoux of Middletown. In addition, he is survived by several nieces and nephews, great nieces and great nephews and cousins residing in Rhode Island and elsewhere in the Northeast.
Calling hours will be held, Saturday, June 5, 2021 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm in the Hambly Funeral Home, 30 Red Cross Avenue, Newport followed by a “Celebration of Life” from 4:00 to 6:00PM at The Elks Lodge, 141 Pelham St. Burial will take place at St. Columba Berkeley Cemetery at 1:00PM on Sunday, June 6, 2021.
In lieu of flowers please consider donations to:
St. Vincent de Paul Society
St. Joseph’s Church
Or online at https://www.stjosephsnewport.org/giving