Friday, January 15, 2010

Matt McCulley

Tragic news: Matt McCulley, race director of Sea Isle City's Tri for our Veterans, died on Tuesday.

Matt was a stand out guy with a wonderful wife and three amazing daughters. He came to me when he started promotion for the Tri, which benefited Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund and to Sea Isle's VFW Post 1963. Matt wasn't even a Vet, but he said he felt an intense need to help soldiers returning from war.

Matt was one of the first regular readers of this blog - at least one who raised his hand to say hello. In the time I knew him, I found out that he, too, had spent his childhood summers at Avalon Campground though we don't remember meeting each other. He'd ride his bike all the way from Route 9 to Sea Isle, where he worked at the OD (and where he met his wife, Heather). He told me how he'd taken that bike ride again recently and buzzed past the security guard to whip another time around the campground, and we debated the campground's decision to pave roads that had been dirt when we were kids. Whenever I knocked Sea Isle, where Matt and his family had a summer home, even if I did so lightly, he always came to its defense and reminded me of how much better it was than Wildwood.

I included his wife in a Philadelphia Inquirer article about restoring furniture, and stood on the beach during last year's triathalon where Matt roamed with a bullhorn, then bitched out a woman who tried to drive her car on the street that was part of the bike course. After the race, Bill, Matt and Heather and I had beers at the VFW hall and toasted a successful event. He kept bugging me to sign up for the 2010 race, even though I'm not allowed to swim competitively. But at that celebration, he had me at least thinking about it.

The last time I saw him was at the Captain Bill Gallagher 10 Mile Island run. I was coming out of the hall where runners registered and picked up race packets. I wasn't supposed to be there. I was scheduled to take a cooking class in Philadelphia but bailed because Bill had just decided to take the promotion in Minneapolis.

I don't remember exactly what was said, but I saw Matt as I was coming out of the hall, and he asked me what I was doing there because I swore I would never run that race.

The course has two loops, so I saw Matt pass by twice, ahead of me of course, because he was much faster runner. I remember him saying later that his time wasn't that great, and he'd been annoyed that some kid finished ahead of him.

I noticed that this blog was getting a lot of hits from searches for Matt's name. I figured they were looking for another guy, so I flipped over to Facebook to see what was up, maybe send Matt a jokey message about how these folks had found the wrong site. But I had a bad feeling when I saw his Facebook page was gone. Thank you to the person who told me what I feared was true. At least I know, and can tell people who know Matt, or read about him here, or knew about the Tri. I still couldn't believe it was true until I saw the death notice in today's paper.

The funeral mass will be at noon on Monday at Assumption of the Blessed Mary Virgin Church, 300 State Rd., West Grove, Pa. Friends and family may call after 9:30 a.m. Internment is private.

The family is requesting that, instead of flowers, contributings be made to the McCulley Family Scholarship Fund, Fordham University, c/o TD Bank. I'll post any sort of fundraising information if it becomes available. I'll also keep you updated about the Tri and what help they'll need to run it this year.

Please keep Matt's family in your prayers.

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Sig Behrens said...

Matt's friends at Microsoft are putting a fund together to help his family for the near term, in addition to Matt's Scholarship Fund. It will take a little time to get it set up and we will let you know so you can get the word out.

Jen A. Miller said...

Sig -

Great, thank you for the information, and please keep me posted.


Robert said...

Matt was extremely humble but He would appreciate your very kind words. He was a wonderful Man and an excellent Dad. He had a vision to help wounded Vets and to Honor all Soldiers, Sailors, Coast Guard,Airmen and Marines. So with His passion for running and biking, Matt found a way to combine all of them by founding the "Tri For Veterans". As usual Matt accomplished what He set out to do.He made us very proud.I will miss him always.
Thanks Jenn,

Uncle Buck
Matt's Godfather

Anonymous said...

Condolences to you and Matt's family and friends.

Can you tell us the cause of death? He was so young...

Anonymous said...

It does not matter how one dies; it matters how one lives.

Anonymous said...

I have read so many wonderful things about this man, a stranger and I have been so moved. May I ask, how did he pass away? So tragic. My prayers are with his family. God Bless them.