Cover photo for James Matthew Autry's Obituary
James Matthew Autry Profile Photo
1956 Matt 2024

James Matthew Autry

January 13, 1956 — March 8, 2024

Indianapolis

With great sadness, we announce the passing of James Matthew (Matt) Autry, who graduated from this earthly life on March 8, 2024, after fighting ALS for 12 years. He passed away peacefully at home with his family in loving attendance.

Born in Flint, Michigan, Matt grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. He graduated from Northwest High School in 1974 and received his Bachelor of Science degree (1986) and Master of Science degree (2008) in Physical Education at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

Matt was a dedicated father to Sam and Emma Rota-Autry. Matt married Rochelle (Chelle) Lynn Heaston in 2017. Chelle was Matt's devoted wife who saw him as courageous man who faced ALS with dignity in a wheelchair.

Matt worked in diabetes research for Eli Lilly before he realized his gifts from God as a teacher and reentered college at IUPUI in 1981 as a physical education major. His first teaching job was as a math teacher and coach for Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS). From 1986 to 1987, he served as Program Director of the IPS Outdoor Education Program. Matt then worked as Executive Director of the Indiana FFA Foundation From 1987 to 1991. He joined the faculty at IUPUI in 1985, working as an Associate Faculty member until 2014.  Matt was the Lead Low and High Rope Courses Facilitator from 1996 to 2015. Matt retired as IUPUI’s Director of Campus Recreation in 2018. Under his direction,   the nationally recognized Campus Recreation Outdoor Facilities were established in 2016 and the Campus Recreation Fitness center was opened in 2018.  

Matt was an avid outdoorsman who loved hiking, camping, sailing, and climbing. He was a mentor to many students and colleagues who shared his passion for nature and adventure. Matt did mountaineering with National Outdoor Leadership School in 2001, receiving the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Educator Certificate and becoming a Leave No Trace Outdoor Skills and Ethics Trainer.

Matt  was a loving father, husband, brother, son, uncle, and cousin who cherished his family and friends. His great sense of humor and joyful spirit touched many lives. Matt is survived by his wife, Chelle Autry; his children, Emma Rota-Autry and Sam Rota-Autry; his stepchildren, Jaime Bristow and Evan Bristow (Yating Jiang); his grandchildren, Beatrix and Gwen Bristow; his sibling David Autry (Monica Autry); and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

Information about Matt’s celebration of life will be forthcoming on social media. 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Matthew Autry, please visit our flower store.

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