Wednesday, July 18

YRL librarian dies at 44, remembered for kindness, inquisitiveness


Families and co-workers of Oliver Mattheussens, a UCLA library assistant at the Charles E. Young Research Library, remember him as being a cheerful and kind person, an expert on European cultures and languages and a talented individual who connected to people quickly. (Courtesy of Kimberly Mattheussens)

Families and co-workers of Oliver Mattheussens, a UCLA library assistant at the Charles E. Young Research Library, remember him as being a cheerful and kind person, an expert on European cultures and languages and a talented individual who connected to people quickly. (Courtesy of Kimberly Mattheussens)


Oliver Mattheussens, a UCLA library assistant at the Charles E. Young Research Library, was an expert on European cultures and languages.

Mattheussens, who worked in YRL since 2006, died of brain cancer at the age of 44 last week. He developed glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer, less than a year ago, said Kimberly Mattheussens, his wife and a student affairs officer at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.

Oliver Mattheussens was born in Belgium on Oct. 18, 1973, to Frieda Bastiaenssens and Jean Mattheussens. He moved to the United States with his wife, Kimberly Mattheussens, in 1999 and to California in 2000.

Kimberly Mattheussens said she remembers her husband as being caring and approachable.

“He made connections with people really quickly,” she said.

Katalin Radics, a librarian and bibliographer at YRL, said she hired Oliver Mattheussens because she was impressed with his fluency in Dutch, French, German and Italian during his job interview.

Radics said that after she hired Oliver Mattheussens, she learned that he also knew Latin and could read and understand ancient Greek.

“He had forgotten to mention it in the interview,” Radics said. “He was an extremely smart guy.”

She added that Oliver Mattheussens was a cheerful and kind person who was always punctual to meetings.

“He was the most efficient and the most wonderful co-worker I have ever worked with,” she said.

Some of Oliver Mattheussens’ co-workers said his curiosity extended beyond languages.

Margarita Nafpaktitis, a former librarian at YRL, said Oliver Mattheussens taught himself how to archive websites for a project she was conducting on Russian politics. Several of the archives Oliver Mattheussens created were award-winning, she added.

Nafpaktitis also said Oliver Mattheussens’ co-workers were impressed with how he kept up to date on current events.

“By the time he got to the library in the morning, he would have already walked his kids to school and he would have read the paper, sometimes two or three different papers,” she said.

Kimberly Mattheussens said her husband dreamed of becoming a screenwriter since he was a child, and wrote more than 30 screenplays over the years. One of his pieces was a mystery series on Shakespeare, in which the playwright would solve a crime and write a play in every episode.

Kimberly Mattheussens said she thinks her husband’s kindness was a gift that not many share.

“He always seemed to find a way of talking to anyone about anything,” Kimberly Mattheussens said. “He was kind of a magical person.”

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