Conservation Foundation honors Richard and Cornelia Matson with Lifetime Impact Award

Announcement made during nonprofit’s annual Conservation Reception

Christine Johnson (right) honors Cornelia and Richard Matson during the Nov. 3 event. Contributed photo

The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast has recognized local philanthropists Richard “Dick” and Cornelia Matson with a Lifetime Impact Award, the nonprofit has announced.

The couple was honored at the Foundation’s Annual Conservation Reception, which took place on Sunday, Nov. 3, a news release notes.

In the past, the release points out, the Conservation Foundation recognized a Volunteer of the Year and a Conservation Partner of the Year during that annual event. “However, this year, in celebration of the organization’s 20th Anniversary, the Matsons were recognized for their monumental impact across Conservation Foundation’s history,” the release adds.

“Reflecting on 20 years of conservation and community, there are those whose role in our success was and continues to be tremendous,” said Christine P. Johnson, president of the Conservation Foundation, in the release. “Dick and Cornelia are two of those pivotal people,” Johnson continued. “We are enormously grateful to have them in our conservation community and thank them both for all they have done to protect the land and water here in Southwest Florida!”

In 2006, the Matsons sold their Bay Preserve home to the Conservation Foundation at a bargain price “and made a significant donation toward the property’s long-term stewardship,” the release explains. The Foundation “purchased Bay Preserve with a Florida Forever Communities Trust Grant and opened it to the public as a community park in 2009,” the release adds. “It is because of the Matsons that this unique waterfront site is forever protected. The historic residence on site, now known as the Burrows-Matson House, was built in 1931” by Dr. Waters Field Burrows and his wife, Elsa Scherer Burrows, the release notes. The almost 5-acre property serves as the Foundation’s headquarters “and is the perfect spot to put in your kayak, spend the afternoon fishing, or enjoy the sunset over Little Sarasota Bay,” the release points out.

“The Matsons are active and engaged members of Conservation Foundation’s conservation community,” the release says. “The generous couple continues to help maintain their former home, supporting major restoration projects over the years, including the rebuilding of the Burrows-Matson House veranda and an upgrade to impact glass windows throughout the historic structure.”

Further, the release notes, Cornelia serves as an adviser on the Conservation Foundation’s Board of Advisors and is member of the nonprofit’s Legacy Society.

Additionally, the release continues, the Matsons were the top sponsors of the Foundation’s Palm Ball every year the event was held (2008-2022), and they are the chief sponsors of Party in Paradise, the Conservation Foundation’s “exciting new cocktail party experience,” which is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2024.