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Charles E. Mather 3d, insurance executive and descendant of old Quaker family, dies at 86

Mr. Mather was descended from John Howland, an indentured servant who came to America aboard the Mayflower. Many modern-day families can trace their lineage to Howland.

Mr. Mather enjoyed watching horse racing. He spent many summers in Saratoga , N.Y.
Mr. Mather enjoyed watching horse racing. He spent many summers in Saratoga , N.Y.Read moreCourtesy of the Mather Family

Charles E. Mather 3d, 86, of East Falls, a fourth-generation insurance executive, sportsman, and cultural leader in Philadelphia, died Monday, Sept. 21, of a pulmonary embolism at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia.

Known as “Peter,” Mr. Mather was the son of Buvel Folwell and Charles E. Mather II. He was born in Philadelphia and graduated from St. Paul’s School, Harvard University, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Mr. Mather was a 12th-generation descendant of John Howland, an indentured servant who came to America aboard the Mayflower. During passage, he kept getting washed overboard but was fished out of the Atlantic. Many modern-day families trace their lineage to Howland.

The Mathers arrived in Philadelphia in 1682. Mr. Mather’s great-great-grandfather was George H. Earle, a Quaker abolitionist and a founder of the Republican Party.

Mr. Mather spent most of his career as president of Mather & Co., an insurance brokerage established in 1873 by his great-grandfather, Charles E. Mather. It was one of the first American insurance brokers to do business with Lloyd’s of London.

Since he traveled frequently to London, Mr. Mather made many transatlantic friends. In 1983, the British foreign service appointed him honorary British consul in Philadelphia, a post he held until 1998.

At different times, Mr. Mather was involved in horse racing in the United Kingdom and attended races with Queen Elizabeth, mother of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret. Mr. Mather met the Queen Mother through friends.

His son, Charlie E. Mather 4th, said his father recalled commenting to Her Royal Highness that he was excited about the purse in a race in which he had a horse entered.

Her Majesty responded: “Oh, Mr. Mather, we don’t do this for the money.” He countered: “Of course, ma’am,” but whispered to a friend: “Her Majesty can say that — her stable is bigger.”

Mr. Mather was a founding board member of Christiana Bank & Trust and a board member of Central Penn National Bank.

“He was known for his judgment and diplomacy,” his family said in a tribute. “He was proficient in turning an argument his way and getting opponents to see the other side of the argument.”

Daughter Dorothy Mather Ix said Mr. Mather appreciated art and culture and taught his children to support the arts by taking them to museums and gallery openings.

"At the time, we found it tedious and boring, but it cemented the family passion our father had,” she said.

He was chair of the board of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, president of the Association for Public Art, and a trustee emeritus of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“Mr. Mather was the longest-serving president of the Association for Public Art from 1985 to 2013,” said Penny Balkin Bach, the association’s executive director.

During his tenure, a number of works by contemporary artists were installed throughout the city, including Jody Pinto’s Fingerspan along the Wissahickon Creek, Martin Puryear’s Pavilion in the Trees at the Horticulture Center in Fairmount Park, and Mark di Suvero’s Iroquois on Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Timothy Rub, director of the Art Museum, praised Mr. Mather “for playing an active role in the museum — as a generous donor, a wise counselor, and by participating in the many events we offer to our members.”

Horse racing was one of Mr. Mather’s keen interests. The Mather racing colors, scarlet and gold, are among the oldest in America.

He loved to watch racing and to bet on horses, football, and even golf, his son said.

Mr. Mather spent summers in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where he was a vice president of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

He was a member of the Union League of Philadelphia, Franklin Inn Club, the Sons of the American Revolution, and the Society of Mayflower Descendants.

Besides his son and daughter, he is survived by his wife of 62 years, Mary MacGregor Mather; four grandchildren; a brother; and a sister.

Services are private. Memorial donations may be made to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, P.O. Box 7646, Philadelphia, Pa., 19130, or via, or to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts School Committee via