Norman Sinclair Mathews

May 9, 1928 - October 9, 2021

On October 9th, 2021, Norman Mathews peacefully passed in his Vashon Island home, surrounded by family. It brought a beautiful chapter of a long life of service to family, friends, community, and country to a close. On May 9th, 1928, Norman was born to Gladys Sinclair and William Mathews and remained a native of the Pacific Northwest, graduating from Roosevelt High School in Seattle and subsequently the University of Washington in 1951. During his time at the University of Washington, he earned a degree in business and economics and was an active member of the Theta Chi Fraternity (Alpha Rho Chapter).

In 1952, Norman was lucky enough to marry his true partner in life, his wife Janet Capps. Norman and Jan’s first years together were spent serving their country in the United States Coast Guard in Ketchikan, Alaska, where their first son, Tom, was born. After completing his Coast Guard service, Norman and Jan moved back to Seattle, where they raised five children, Tom (Julie), Jay (deceased), Vicki (Betty), Cindy (Dick), and Cheryl. They also shared in the joy of their seven grandchildren (Clay, Katie, Colin, Jay, Jarrod, Caroline, and Christina) and nine great-grandchildren.

Norman’s passion for the grocery industry was second only to his love of family. Over his 65-year grocery career, he became a pillar of the Northwest Grocery community, in positions with Tradewell Company, Thriftway Corporate, TB&M Grocery, 7-11 Stores, Inc, and Associated Grocers, and as a board member of Northwest Grocers and Associated Grocers.

In 1965, Norman realized his dream of running his own store when, with the help of his lifelong best friend Tom Barwick and Tom’s wife Ann, he and Jan were able to purchase Vashon Thriftway on Vashon Island. Running Vashon Thriftway was a true labor of love for Norman, and he was a constant fixture both for customers and employees, noticeable with his red sweater, smile, and talent for making sure each person to whom he spoke felt valued. Norman found it especially rewarding to train and mentor employees through their work at the store, encouraging them to pursue their goals both in academics and in business.

Vashon Thriftway has grown over the years to become a well-known and award-winning independent grocery store in the Pacific Northwest. It remains owned and operated by the family to this day, a fitting legacy to a dedicated grocer and family man.

A talented fisherman, Norman delighted in introducing family and friends to fly fishing, spending happy summer days angling together in the beautiful lakes of British Columbia. Norman was also an avid baseball enthusiast. In addition to playing and coaching baseball, he was an enduring Seattle Mariners fan who attended countless games with Jan and their family.

Norman was a faithful supporter of Vashon community organizations over his 56 years on Vashon Island, including the Vashon Food Bank, Vashon Center for the Arts, Vashon Ski School, Vashon Little League, Vashon Youth Athletics, the Vashon Community Scholarship Foundation, and Vashon Community Care. The family asks you to honor his memory by donating to the Vashon Community Scholarship Foundation in lieu of flowers. Donations to the Vashon Community Scholarship Foundation can be made online at or by mail at P.O. Box 1413, Vashon, WA 98070.

Memories of Norman can be shared on his Tribute Wall by visiting

At Norman’s request, a private service will be held for immediate family at Mountain View Cemetery in Auburn.