Green was good-natured athlete, singer, reliable friend


January 9, 2020

At Matthew Green's memorial service Monday night in a packed Presbyterian church, youth group leader and fire chief Al Giddings eulogized Green as "humble, genuine, and real" with a "heart for people." He said he didn't "do what is right on the outside so people could see him doing it, rather he did what was right so he could look in the mirror."

Those grieving Green's sudden death in an avalanche while snowboarding in the Haines pass on Dec. 30, echoed these sentiments. "Matthew was so dependable, had a strong sense of self, and while he didn't say much, when he did, everyone listened," Haines School principal Rene Martin said.

Computer teacher Sam McPhetres described him as a true "gentleman."

His sisters, teachers, former classmates at Haines High and his boss in Seattle all lauded Green as fun-loving, hardworking, talented, and a little goofy. Giddings recalled how he was "disarmingly friendly" with the homeless people he met on youth group mission trips to Juneau's Glory Hole (now Glory Hall) soup kitchen and San Francisco's Tenderloin District.

Matthew William Green was born at home in Anchorage to Jim and Shannon (Thorn) Green on July 7, 1998. He was the second of four children and had three sisters. The family moved to Haines when he was 8, and by then he was already a good skier. His mother home-schooled the close-knit siblings. He played Little League, and was on the Haines Dolphins swim team, which his father coaches. He took piano lessons, played guitar, and loved to sing. Green was raised singing hymns of praise at church and at home with his family. "Matthew was an unabashed shower singer," his father said. He transitioned to public school by joining Haines High's award winning Man Choir. That lead to the full choir, and soon he was enrolled at Haines High.

Classmate Jenae Larson, now a student teacher in Haines, said many in their class of 22 had been friends since primary grades and that jumping in late must have been intimidating. "He fit right in. He was so kind and so sweet. One of our friends once asked Matt if he ever got mad, and he said 'I don't think so.'" Green and Larson sang Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" at their 2016 graduation.

Tall and blond, he was a starter on the Glacier Bears basketball team, ran cross country, and placed in state in the shot put. His sister Rebekah said that while sports came easily to him, "Matt was very social. I think he chose his activities to be with friends." His favorite classes were physics, computers, construction, and small engines.

"Matthew's mind was original," McPhetres said. He was fascinated by the school's 3D printer, and found a computer program that was more complex than the one the class was using. "To be honest, I'm not sure I understood it all," his teacher said. While other student designs produced basic shapes like rectangles, Green taught himself to make a hammerhead shark and after learning McPhetres liked Corvettes, made him a small red one.

Green earned a certificate in Industrial Electricity from Alaska Vocational and Technical College in Seward in June 2017 and that fall headed to Seattle with his best friend, Zane Durr, in a Honda Passport he'd bought for $700 and rebuilt. He worked for Trinity Gate and Door Co. as an apprentice electrician. Owner Greg Mebust said Green was reliable, polite, a pleasure to be around, and was "great at figuring things out and listening to directions... I wish I had a hundred Matthews." They fished together many Fridays before work.

Green and Durr shared an apartment and spent weekends outdoors on the water, in the mountains, or road tripping to see friends. "I called it the adventures of Matthew and Zane. They were always off to explore the wild and had a passion to see new things," Mebust said.

The loss of both of them in the same accident is a double blow. "Kids like Matt and Zane are why we teach," McPhetres said.

"They are why we all do," added principal Martin.

Matthew Green is survived by his parents, Jim and Shannon; sisters Rebekah Reams, and Naomi and Lydia Green; grandmother Geraldine Green; grandfather Gerald Thorn and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.


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