Matthew Edwin Valentine, 37, died peacefully in his sleep at home in Troy, MT, on January 4, 2021. He was born on September 20, 1983, in Snohomish, WA, but spent most of his life in northwest Montana. As he grew up, he came to be generally known as “Matt” except for those – ahem – rare moments when someone in authority felt the need to rein in Matt’s high-spirited and unbounded enthusiasm for life by using his full name in a tone of extreme seriousness. This rarely lasted long, as Matt has a lopsided grin that could melt the chilliest of hearts and against which few, least of all his mom, were any match.
Thanks to his dad’s love of soccer, his early toddler experiences of walking often included a small ball at his feet, which later translated to a brilliant talent on the soccer field. As he grew from toddler to young boy, the family moved to Yaak, MT, which has few soccer fields but many other opportunities to be outside. He spent countless hours with his older brother Ben and pals Haakon and Aaron roaming the woods of the Yaak: stalking whitetail deer, sneaking into Canada, riding home-made rafts down the river, swimming and camping. The hills and woods of Yaak became his backyard and the outdoors his playground. He loved it and accepted all its challenges.
High school brought Matt to Troy, with new friends, new sports and new mountains. One full-moon weekend just before the beginning of his senior year, he and a friend hiked up to camp at Leigh Lake, which sits at the base of Snowshoe Peak, in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. As they were descending back to their campsite on August 4th, 2001, Matt suffered a fall that led to extensive head and chest injuries, from which he never fully recovered. His mom has been his loving caregiver for the 16 years since he came home after his initial accident.
Matt is survived by his parents, Jim and Donna; brothers and sisters Hosannah, Benjamin, Marybeth, Sarah, Anna and Patrick; aunts Patty Valentine and Sherry Gibb; uncles Bryan Gibb and Steve Michalik and numerous other loving family and friends.
Matt's parents would like to express their deep thankfulness, first to God, our Father in heaven, the giver and taker of life, and secondly to the many friends and family members who have stood with us in love and support, both now and throughout the many years since our son's accident.
Matt was laid to rest in Boyd Hill Cemetery, under his beloved NW Montana sky, amongst a stand of beautiful old-growth Yaak larch. The family plans to have a gathering to celebrate Matt’s life with as many friends and family as possible later in the spring this year. Arrangements are by Schnackenberg Funeral Home in Libby. Online condolences and memories may be shared at www.schnackenbergfh.com.
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