Denise Matroni

January 5, 1955 - December 30, 2022
Denise  Matroni


Denise Matroni, age 67 of Wilmington, NC, sadly passed away at the Lower Cape Fear LifeCare Center on the 30th of December 2022.

Denise is survived by her husband of 45 years, Thom Rakes; her daughter Maureen Denise Conner, her son-in law Brian Conner, and her wonderful two-year-old granddaughter, Sienna Conner.  She also is survived by her sisters, Ann Verlinden (husband Gerald), Mary Matroni, Katherine Matroni Mobley (husband Bob), and her brother Bob Matroni (wife Nancy).  In addition, there are many nieces, nephews, cousins, and other extended family, as well as many dear friends who have become family over the years.

Denise was born on January 5, 1955, in Kansas City, MO to the late Robert Noah Matroni and Katherine Agnes Creegan Matroni.  After graduating from St. Teresa’s Academy in 1973, she went on to complete her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Missouri Columbia in 1977.  Her education continued throughout her professional career, earning the Senior Certified Professional certification from SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), and the Certified Compensation Professional certification from the WorldatWork association.

Denise enjoyed an extensive career in human resources, retiring in 2020 from a crowning position as Human Resources Director with Wilmington’s CFPUA (Cape Fear Public Utilities Authority).  Her earlier human resources work was with the University of North Carolina Wilmington, the City of Wilmington, and the University of Missouri Columbia.  She also was actively involved in the Lower Cape Fear Human Resources Association, Cape Fear Garden Club, and Port City Community Church.

The true tenor of who Denise was is reflected in the words used by her family and friends to describe her.  Looking through the many messages of support we see these words:  Joyful, Loving, Dedicated, Giving, Creative, Caring, Focused, Enthusiastic, Playful, Welcoming, Encouraging, Planful, Thoughtful, Humorous, Spiritual, Energetic, Inclusive, Spirited, Comforting, Generous, and Supportive.  She was the first to provide food, quilts and other sewing items, a helping hand, or a celebration event to others.

Join us at her Celebration of Life service to help honor the amazing life that Denise shared with each of us: 11 am, Saturday, January 28, Wilmington Funeral and Cremation Chapel, 1535 South 41st, Wilmington, NC.  All are welcome to attend.  The Celebration will be recorded and streamed for those who cannot attend.  A luncheon will follow the Celebration service.

The memorial service will be live-streamed and can be viewed by clicking HERE once it begins.

In lieu of flowers, Denise’s family asked that donations be made in her honor to REAP, or to your favorite charity.  REAP assists families in the Raytown, Missouri area who are struggling to make ends meet.

Share memories and condolences with the family by visiting the “Tribute Wall”.

Tribute Wall

Please feel free to sign the guestbook or share a memory



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • January 27, 2023
    Susanne Johnson lit a candle:
    Lit since January 27, 2023 at 1:26:15 AM

  • January 26, 2023
    Viktoriya Sickle says:
    So sorry for the loss of Denise.. She was very kind, beautiful, generous, caring and energetic woman. So glad to have been working with her at CFPUA. Praying for her family and loves ones...

  • January 22, 2023
    Nancy Jones says:
    So very sorry for the loss of such a kind and caring woman. She was a joy to interact with as a colleague and friend at UNCW. She will be missed.

  • January 11, 2023
    Martin Pelland says:
    Dear Thom, in the waning months of 1996, into Coastal Carolina blew 3 forces of nature: Hurricane Bertha, then Hurricane Fran, then Denise Matroni- the toughest of all. We got to know You and Denise and Maureen because by luck of the draw y’all became our neighbors. Yeah, we survived those two storms and got to know a great family each one there own individual force of nature! Over time….Lives happened. Now we are mourning…. Time heals all; we truly hope so! Our Family is sorry for Your Loss…Our Loss. Martin Pelland, Sneads Ferry N C

  • January 07, 2023
    Jeanne Conner says:
    Denise’s gift was not only that she embraced life to the fullest but that she made those around her want to do the same. She was infectious with her zeal. She had a knack of caring for others that was inclusive and effortless all the while very polished. We continue to pray for her and are thankful the gift of her in our lives. Jeff and Jeanne