Betty Matas passed away in Arizona Monday after battling kidney and heart problems. She was 75 years old. Matas and her husband Bob captured the interest of many New Yorkers back in April, when the couple decided to make their move from Forest Hills, Queens to Sedona, Arizona in a taxi. Their driver was Douglas Guldeniz, a taxi driver from Turkey they met a few weeks earlier when returning from Manhattan to their home in Queens. As they made that first trip, Guldeniz asked them all sorts of questions about their impending move and they asked him if he wanted to come. They were looking for an alternative way of getting from New York to Arizona because the Matases were worried about flying with their two cats, Cleopatra and Pretty Face.

Guldeniz agreed to drive the Matases to Arizona for $3,000, plus gas, food, and lodging during their journey, and another $5,000 for the return trip. A reporter for the Daily News went along for the ride as well, and wrote that other motorists were often surprised to see a yellow New York cab so far from city. The carload of people and cats completed the 2,500 mile journey in six days.

The Daily News
described Bob Matas as stunned this week at the loss of his wife. He thought they would have a few years together to enjoy the warm Arizona climate, but he said that his wife Betty was very happy that they had made the trip.

A frail woman who walked slowly, Betty Matas nevertheless displayed the enthusiasm of a schoolgirl about her trek through 10 states.

A one-time executive secretary for an advertising firm, she chatted with everyone from truck drivers in Virginia to a teen waitress in a tiny Texas town.

"I always was adventuresome," she said along the way.

The New York Times also has a story on the Matases and their journey, reporting that Bob Matas says both Cleopatra and Pretty Face are doing well.

(Photo by Tina Fineberg/AP)