Matthew Patrick Walsh
April 17, 1984 - April 2, 2006
Our son, Matthew Patrick Walsh, was our second born and the younger brother to our daughter, Christen. He was born in New Orleans and grew up in Slidell, LA, where he graduated from Pope John Paul II High School. He was a happy, friendly and outgoing child. Even at a young age he was quite thoughtful and considerate. At about age 7 when his sister was not allowed to go to her friend's house until she cleaned up her messy room, he volunteered to clean it for her so that she could go. When he was 12, our entire family ran a marathon in Anchorage, Alaska for the Leukemia Society to honor a 9-year-old family friend fighting leukemia. He had befriended a 40-year-old member of our marathon group and became his running buddy during the marathon. His friend injured his knee during the race and encouraged Matt to continue without him as he didn't want to slow him down but Matt insisted on keeping his friend company for the remainder of the run. We were so proud of him for such a beautiful gesture. Throughout his life, Matt made friends very easily and one of his strongest qualities was the loyalty he showed them. This was evidenced at his funeral where the majority of the 300+ in attendance were his friends.
He was quite athletic and participated in several sports from a very young age through high school....baseball, soccer, basketball, cross country, tennis and Taekwondo. His participation in a traveling soccer league allowed him to travel to a handful of states from California to Florida and even to Mexico. His hometown Slidell team took part in the Basketball Junior Olympics playing against teams from several states, including Puerto Rico. He was so blessed to have had such great experiences and to be able to develop wonderful friendships. He was an avid LSU, New Orleans Saints, Hornets (now the Pelicans) and Voodoo fan and attended their games whenever possible.
Matt stood 6’4”, tall, dark and handsome with the gift of gab. I was convinced he would one day be a salesman of some sort because of his friendliness, charm and smooth talking. Often when he attended the N.O. Saints games with “nosebleed” section tickets, he somehow managed to end up in an empty seat in a great section by chatting it up with the ushers.
He thoroughly enjoyed Mardi Gras and attending concerts with friends. He loved to have fun and lived life to the fullest. Two weeks before his death, he and his sister, Christen, attended a Hornets basketball game. Matt had purchased a large pizza and as he was making his way to his seat he was high-fiving strangers and offering them a slice of pizza. My daughter cherishes this and so many of the great times she shared with her beloved brother.
Growing up, Matthew was a delightful child. He had a wonderful sense of humor and in high school was voted “funniest” each of his 4 years there. His teenage years were a bit of a challenge and we implemented tough love. As he matured, he recognized that his sometimes not-so-wise choices were solely his and we, as parents, were only doing our job. With his great sense of humor and his ability to laugh at himself, Matt would recall his shenanigans and soon have us all laughing and shaking our heads. He was very affectionate with his family and often wrote us very sincere cards expressing his gratitude for all that we had done for him. Reading those cards today gives me much needed comfort.
He had a special place in his heart for his rescued and beloved canine companion, Yaeger. He accompanied Matt on walks, on car rides, and even to work. Matt laughingly admitted that his pup was a bit of a “bed hog.” We attested to that as our granddog became part of our family after Matt’s passing. Interestingly, Yaeger, like Matt, loves to smile and is very friendly. So much so that for the last 5 ½ years this special dog has been a therapy dog bringing love and smiles to patients and children at St. Tammany Parish Hospital.
After living and working in the “real” world Matt recognized the importance of an education. At the time of his death he was enrolled as a full-time student at Southeastern Louisiana University and made the Dean's List all the while holding a full-time job. He was becoming quite the young man we knew he could be which filled us with much pride.
On April 2, 2006, at the age 21, Matt was involved in a motor vehicle accident and sustained a severe head injury from which he would not recover. We honored his wishes to be an organ donor. He saved the lives of a 12 year old girl with a kidney, and a 47 year old female with his liver. Sixty-three year old Raymond Stelly from Abbeville received his heart. Two others were given the gift of sight and many more would benefit from tissue and bones.
We had the privilege of meeting his heart recipient, Raymond and his wife Deborah for the first time on Valentine’s Day in 2008. We met their 8 children and grandchildren, now totaling 22, at the LOPA picnic. It was at that time that we realized the enormity of Matt’s gift in just this one family.
Sadly, 4 years later, tragedy would strike our family again with the sudden deaths of my husband, Patrick, in February and heart recipient, Raymond, in July. We find comfort in knowing that Matt’s gift blessed Raymond and his family with four more precious years. Raymond was able to really enjoy life and to feel well enough to do activities he had not been able to do for quite a while. Most importantly, he was able to walk two more daughters down the aisle and see the birth of four more grandchildren and one great grandchild.
We, too, feel extremely blessed to have met such a wonderful family and we consider them to be an extension of ours united by one precious heart, as are our three heavenly “boys.”
Matty, our hero, we love and miss you dearly…what a legacy you leave!❤