In Loving Memory of
Matthew T Koch
The Matthew T Koch Foundation is an organization focused on spreading Matthew’s care and love for others by providing educational scholarships and granting funds to nonprofits that focus on enhancing the lives of others.
Matthew’s greatest gift was his ability to connect with others. Not superficially, but deeply. No matter where he went, nor who he met, he left his mark by connecting with genuine care and love. The Foundation mission is to continue expanding the fabric of life connections that Matthew stitched during his short life, by bringing people together and giving financial assistance to causes with which Matthew held dear.
Matthew died suddenly on December 13, 2021, ending his ability to expand his fabric of life connections. It is our sincere hope that those connections continue, and expand, through the Foundation and your love.
Matthew was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala on December 17, 1993. His birthmother Carla made an adoption plan for him, and Betsy and Tim were blessed with a son. Betsy and Tim held Matthew in their arms for the first time on July 5, 1994 – their “anniversary day.” Matthew arrived home in Plymouth, Minnesota on July 7, 1994, joining his big sister Carmen.
His grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends welcomed him home and were excited that he joined the family! He was soon a big brother to Camille, and from there he began stitching his beautiful fabric of life with everyone he met in his much too brief 27 years.
Matthew was a very active toddler, busy with lots of activities once he was balanced on his feet and could run around. He joined his neighbor friends in many activities – playing with balls, running around, and building things with whatever they could put together. Exploring was the theme.
Then Matthew started school at Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion. The early school years really helped him expand his friend circle as he was soon friends with fellow kindergarteners and with many other children older than him. He did not limit himself to friends his own age, and this became a life trait of Matthew. Wherever we went in the school, kids and teachers knew “Matt.” Within family, Matthew was always Matthew, but everyone else in the world called him Matt.
Learning to speak Spanish was such a gift for Matthew and his sisters. What a precious opportunity to learn the language of his birthplace, and a special bond with his sisters Carmen and Camille speaking a language their parents did not speak. They did not use that to their advantage as much as we thought they might, but on occasion mom and dad were outsiders. Matt learning Spanish enabled him to speak with native Spanish speakers whom he met throughout his life – this suited him well as he liked to visit with anyone! Even when we traveled, he made friends with others that he met.
Matt’s fabric grew more as he participated in youth sports. He participated in youth wrestling and football, and a few years in soccer and baseball. He made numerous friends, many who he would run into at athletic and school events for many years.
Our family attended St Joseph church and Matt grew his circle of friends (sometimes during Mass) through after Mass snack time and youth activities. He loved any group he could be a part of, and church presented more opportunities for Matt to grow.
Robbinsdale Middle School opened more doors for Matt to expand his fabric of life. Matt easily retained his friends from his Spanish elementary years, and he made new friends throughout his middle school years. He also gained a little more independence with his bike, and he could visit friends on his own more often.
Armstrong High School provided the greatest opportunity yet to Matt – a school of 2,000 students, and Matt’s personality meant everyone would soon know who he was. Matt continued to “reach upward,” as he befriended many upperclassmen, as well as growing his circle within his own freshman class. As parents, we had trouble keeping track of what grade everybody was in that Matt was hanging with! High school athletics included football, wrestling and lacrosse, making Matt a rare 3-sport athlete in a large suburban school.
Matt’s most treasured gift ever was quite possibly his first cell phone. We made him wait until Christmas of his freshman year, knowing full well we’d lose his attention 100% once he had his own phone – and we were correct! Toss in access to a car, and a license to drive at age 16, and Matt was in “socializing heaven.”
Throughout his young life, as his friend circle grew, he also was able to charm his friends’ parents – always taking the opportunity to schmooze more. Many parents told us Matt was like a son to them, and many friends of his younger sister Camille felt he was a brother to them. His ability to connect with people was simply amazing!
Following high school, Matt went on to the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire, where he continued to wrestle and he joined Athletes in Action, where he delved more into his spirituality. He participated in summer AIA Ultimate Camps, meeting people from all over the U.S. Late in his college life, he traveled to China and connected with students in China that he remained connected to until he passed. Matt worked part time during the school year, exposing him to more skill development, and more friends.
Matt met Julia Stedman at UW Eau Claire, and his life changed forever. She was his dream come true, his true love of life. Julia in his world led to the entire Stedman family, and lots of Julia’s friends, and they all loved Matt.
Matt achieved a degree in International Business and Marketing, and after graduating he went to work for SPS Commerce in sales, which proved to be an area where he was very successful. Matt’s people skills quickly earned him many accolades at SPS, including joining the prestigious President’s Club, an honor in Sales for outstanding sales productivity. Matt’s time at SPS brought more connections. More friends. He quickly formed new bonds that were meaningful and deep.
Matt and Julia bought a condo in Northeast Minneapolis, and together they developed more friendships with new neighbors, and with the employees of the retail places they frequented. The addition of Mose into their family, their beautiful golden retriever, led to more connections as they spent a great deal of time outdoors showing Mose their local world.
Matt was an incredible person who lived a beautiful life. He wove a beautiful fabric during his life, connecting with thousands of people. His family, friends, coworkers and all that he touched became a thread in his fabric of life. These threads weave all of us together. By continuing to care for your piece of Matthew’s fabric, you will strengthen his legacy. Matthew’s fabric will continue to grow by expanding with new threads, stitched by helping others in so many ways through the Matthew T Koch Foundation. Together, we are all “the ties that bind.”