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Roman Meal Company chairman Charles Matthaei has died

Charles W. H. Matthaei, chairman at Roman Meal Company, died Feb. 26. Matthaei headed the family-owned company for nearly 70 years.

Roman Meal Company reached a number of significant milestones during Matthaei's tenure. The company credits Matthaei with making it the largest selling single brand of variety bread in the United States. Matthaei established a milling company in North Dakota, introduced the company's products to Japan and developed a whole grain based diet plan. More than 50 years ago he trademarked "Natural Whole Grain Goodness." His achievements were officially celebrated during his induction into the American Society of Baking Hall of Fame in 2008.

Matthaei was born and raised in Tacoma, Wash. He earned a chemical engineering degree and received an officer's commission after Navy ROTC training at the University of Washington. A World War II veteran, Matthaei was stationed on the USS Missouri when the Japanese surrendered. He went to work for the family business, Roman Meal Company, when he returned from the Pacific in 1947. In 2013, Matthaei received the University of Washington Distinguished Alumni Veteran Award for his service and a lifetime of philanthropy, civic activism and consumer health advocacy.

Matthaei became a member of the Tacoma Rotary in 1947 and held a 55-year membership in the American Society of Baking. He was a great supporter of Oregon State University's Center for Healthy Aging, the American Association of Cereal Chemists and the Boy Scouts of America. Tacoma's MultiCare Health System named its annual community support award the "Chuck and Helen Matthaei Community Builder Award" for Charles and Helen Matthaei.

"Dad was a poster child for the greatest generation," said William Matthaei, CEO and director at Roman Meal Company. "Throughout his life, he embodied the values of duty, honor, economy, courage, service, love of family and country. These tenets became the backbone of Roman Meal and continue to shape the culture of the company today."

Roman Meal continues to be family-owned and operated in Tacoma, Wash., by members of the Matthaei family. As part of the Roman Meal Company's succession plan, the board of directors has elected William Matthaei as chairman and Peter Matthaei as VP.

The Roman Meal Company develops, produces and licenses whole grain products, including bread and hot cereal. Roman Meal has grown to partner with bakeries throughout the U.S. and internationally.