We could always tell when Matt Miklas arrived for work.
There would be a terrific bang and clatter as he opened the front door, rolling inside as the self-closing office door tried to shut on his wheelchair.
It was the only noisy part of his day. Matt was a pretty quiet guy, more attuned to listening than talking.
That’s a good sign for someone who wants to be a reporter. Never has the old saying applied more than to people who write for a living: God gave you one mouth and two ears so you’d listen twice as much as you talk.
Matt was a good reporter, a good writer, a good communicator, and would have been an even better one as he gained experience. He learned quickly, took direction and criticism well, and rarely repeated a mistake once it was pointed out to him.
Like many who knew him, I was stunned at Matt’s untimely death this past week. This was a 23-year-old kid with a lot of promise. Though he had to rely on a wheelchair for mobility, it didn’t stop him from competing in sports and from giving his time and energy to helping others – including, significantly, at the Veterans Administration Hospital, where he volunteered hundreds of hours.
For someone so quiet, he certainly managed to get a lot of attention – and unlike many noisier people, it was all the good kind.
His brief self-description on Twitter, where he signed up for an account after coming to work here as an intern, is appropriate: “Student @ Augusta St. correspondent @ Columbia County News-Times. Disabled but it’s not gonna stop me. Athletic w/ mutiple honors. That sums it up, right?”
It’s just a kick in the gut to hear that a young man with a heart that big could die from what amounted to a heart attack.
And that bang at the front door when Matt arrived? I expect he caused a similar commotion at the pearly gates, just on principle, because he certainly won’t need a wheelchair in heaven.
May he rest in peace, and may his family and many friends be comforted by happy memories of a great young man.
New tree planted
On a happier note in a very sad week, I was thrilled to be able to arrive at Evans Towne Center Park Wednesday in time to see Greenville Tree Service plant the new Columbia County Christmas tree.
It’s a 30-plus-foot-tall Deodar Cedar. Apparently the tree is native to the Himalayas, but is hardy in our zone, says Barry Smith, the director of Columbia County’s Community and Leisure Division.
It’s my understanding that the tree service also has planted trees at a certain prestigious private golf club in our area, by the way.
We’ll hold the ceremony to light the tree Dec. 3.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com. Follow at Twitter.com/