FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA, US — William L. Matthaei, whose career in the milling and baking industries spanned more than 40 years, died June 5 in Fargo. He was 77years old.

William Matthaei.png

William L. Matthaei in 2005


Born in Tacoma, Washington, US, to Charles and Helen Matthaei, Bill Matthaei was the fourth generation of his family to lead a milling or baking company, businesses with roots dating back to the first Matthaei bakery, which opened in 1686 in Marburg, Germany. 

A graduate from the University of Washington with a degree in economics, Matthaei went on to study cereal science at North Dakota State University in Fargo before joining the US Navy as an officer at a command center in Iceland.

Following his military service Matthaei joined the sales and marketing department of the Roman Meal Co., a business owned by the Matthaei family since 1927. He became president and chief executive officer of the company in 1990. He served as chairman of Roman Meal as well as Dakota Milling and Blending (DakotaMB), the merged Dakota Specialty Milling and Dakota Blenders business, which supplies mixes and blends to commercial bakeries from facilities in in Fargo and St. Louis. His son Peter currently serves as CEO of DakotaMB.

Active at Prairie Heights Church in West Fargo, Matthaei also was an enthusiastic outdoorsman and conservationist. He was a fan of steelhead fishing on the Sol Duc River and mountain pass bicycling in Washington and pheasant hunting in North Dakota. He was diagnosed in 2008 with plasma cell leukemia and tenaciously pursued treatment, including two stem cell transplants, serving as an inspiration to others fighting the disease. 

Matthaei is survived by his wife Joan Gustafson Matthaei; two children, Elizabeth (Dan) and Peter (Crystal); and five grandchildren, Caroline, Madeline, Michael, William and John.

Celebrations of Matthaei’s life will be held at 2 p.m. June 18 at Prairie Heights Community Church, 319 32nd Avenue E, West Fargo; and 11 a.m. June 29 at Praise Covenant Church, 3501 S. Orchard Street, Tacoma.