During the fall of 2012, based on a recommendation from Rick Deemer, a retired partner at Deemer Dana & Froehle LLP (“DDF”), John Matthews traveled to Dublin, Georgia to meet with Scotty Jones and Tracy Sharkey of Thigpen, Jones, Seaton & Co. to test the waters of potential interest in combining the two very well-known and successful accounting firms. Both firms were excited to learn that their cultures were similarly matched – excellent client service, heavily niched industries, and progressive team members. A yearlong intentional courtship began with many miles and hours logged by both firms between Dublin, Atlanta, and Savannah.
As the momentum and the excitement grew, the two firms were faced with what most would consider a devastating set back. While drafting the Letter of Intent in early September 2013, John was diagnosed with a brain tumor. As all of those who know John will attest, he attacked the setback with a typical “John” approach and was heard many times to say “this tumor is a gift.” With a strength and grace that can only come from having a strong relationship with the Lord, and the forward thinking mentality of an exceptional leader, he charged the two firms to continue the process. In the last DDF partner meeting that John was able to attend on September 27, John stressed the importance to his partners to continue what he had started. He recognized the potential of establishing a merged firm that would cultivate a tremendous synergy in serving clients and provide a family centric culture for its employees. He challenged the two firms to remain committed to the Mission Statement that he had lived and witnessed as Managing Partner of DDF, “Creating Value in Each Relationship.” As the partner groups moved ahead, John began his heroic fight against the brain tumor.
With the Letter of Intent signed and approved, the partners for DDF visited John at Memorial Hospital in Savannah on October 22, 2013 to get his vote on the proposed name for the new firm, TJS Deemer Dana LLP. Although deep in the fight against the tumor, John gave his approval with a strong voice. Although the details were pending and no formal announcement had been made, John was frequently known to share the news from the hospital bed in his excitement about seeing his vision being put into place.
On the afternoon of November 6th, God decided that John’s work was done and called him to his heavenly home. The outpouring of love, respect, and admiration by the team members, partners, clients, family, and friends for John during his illness and after his death was tremendous. John’s heart knew no boundaries and his leadership by example knew no limits. Our hearts are heavy from our loss, but we are grateful for John’s vision for our future. As we move ahead, his leadership continues to inspire us. John would say and we all agree, “Our firm is perfectly designed to get the results we are getting.” We know John is smiling in heaven as our two firms are becoming one.
John E. Matthews