Lizz Matto Life Time Devoted to Many Volunteer Projects

This post was written by Valerie on May 22, 2012
Posted Under: Grandma Quotes

Lizz Matto 47 Years Docent at the Museum of Man and Former Volunteer of the Year

I met Lizz Matto at the Hospice hosted Art Show and thought that this woman had many a story to tell. I had no idea just how much of her life she has spent volunteering, helping others, her love of art and history. She is also a lover of bird and bird watching but more about that later.

Lizz was one of the “Fred Harvey Girls” and to quote the link below–“They were queen when railroad was king.” So when Liz Matto just fresh from her first year at college heard they were interviewing she wanted to be picked because at the time it was an honor to be a Fred Harvey Girl.

Legends grew up around them and their restaurant employer. Will Rogers said he just figured Fred Harvey and his girls “kept the West in food and wives.” One legend has it that 20k beautiful and well mannered women wound up as brides to western ranchers, cowboys and railroad men.

Lizz was hired and landed in New Mexico and worked at the La Fonda Hotel as a Fred Harvey girl. She did not marry a cowboy or a railroad man but she did find love–for Native American jewelry. This was during the days the men were building the railroad in Santa Fe. Fred Harvey knew that the railroad was important and he figured out if he provided good food served by proper and pretty young women along the train route he had a winner and so he did.

Lizz also got her love of anything chili pepper in clothing. Her stay in New Mexico took her to Hatch, New Mexico which is the largest growers of chili peppers and home to The Owl Cafe that to this day makes the best chili-cheese burger and serves the best cold beer.

This is one thrifty woman so she picked only certain pieces of Native American jewelry that she loved and never added to that collection. She likes to keep her home and clothes simple.


One of many Fred Harvey Restaurant's Feeding the Men who Settled the West

After Lizz left her job as a Fred Harvey girl she settled in a town called “Fish Camp” just down from Yosemite. She worked as a Fire Look out person and she cutely tells me knows “Smokey The Bear” personally. She also was honored for her hep from the town of Mariposa when the huge fire broke out. Former Police Chief Bill Kollender had started a camp for juveniles that got in trouble with the law. He had these young boys trained to fight fires and everyone of them was needed for this huge fire. Lizz along with others manned the phones to get help for people that were stranded and surrounded by fire. She was given a Certificate of Appreciation by the US Forrest Service for her work on the Mariposa Forrest fire and for the people she saved with the help of the fire fighters.

Lizz worked at Channel 8 and 10 as an editor and worked with Bob Dale amoung others

Later Liz (I could not keep up with all the places she lived) but came to San Diego to Banker’s Hill about 57 years ago. She started out as a film editor for local TV Channel 8 and 10. She also did the editing for “Leave It To Beaver” and  “Dragnet”. All were black and white film in those days. The hardest part was editing to allow for commercials during “Dragnet”. I mentioned to her that I had been on the Bob Dale show when I wrote a small book of poems when I was flying for PSA. So she talked about Bob Dale and how nice he was. The url below mentions him and his life’s work  just after his death.



Lizz was a Docent at the Museum of Man in The Egyptian Section

After her TV days Lizz became first a receptionist at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park and then moved to the San Diego Museum of Man also in Balboa Park where she was in charge of the Mummy section and met many wonderful people who came back  to visit her again and her her tales about how the Egyptians preserved their dead through the mummification process. Go to

Lizz hosted a huge fund raising event for the Museum of Art during December years back and all the decorations were white or clear and as you walked into the area between the two stair cases was a large antique Spanish table lined with mirrors so all the white decorations glistened and glowed along with the dry ice smoke coming from the drink bowl. It was spectacular.  The event was for the Allied Artists Guild. At that time Henry Gardner was the Director and after seeing Lizz’s work on the event he loved her and continued a great working relationship.

Lizz continues to volunteer and has numerous awards and cetificates honoring her for her hard dedicated work ethic as well as was the 1989 Channel 10 Leadership Award. She was written up in many newspapers including three articles by then editor Janet Sutter of the San Diego Union Tribune who told Lizz,” You are my favourite person to interview”.

Lizz also loves animals and bird watching and not too long ago she noticed a bird so different she called the Audobon Society and described a bird that had just escaped from the San Diego Zoo. For you bird lovers go to : or call them at 619-443-2998.

Lizz has also been instrumental in helping with the celebrations at Chicano Park during the 1970’s “Evening with the Stars”. She received the Adame Day Ascunciones Award for her work.

I told Lizz that I aspire to be like her as she is full of energy a former leader of Toastmasters and a great spokesperson. I may not even get close to her efforts but I am better for having met her.

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