“An excellent role model”: Morristown mourns Matthew King, son of former chairman of the board
He was the captain of a powerful football team at Morristown High School. And he was determined to tackle tougher adversaries: housing discrimination and the urban scourge.
Now friends and family cry Matthew the King, 35, whose death Monday in Baltimore is under investigation.
The son of former Morristown council chairman and current candidate Michelle dupree harris and municipal housing inspector Marc Roi, Matt was the founder and president of the Harlem Park Community Development Corporation., a non-profit organization striving to turn an African-American neighborhood into ruins in western Baltimore.
Harris said her son’s death was under a homicide investigation.
Police call case a ‘dubious death’, awaiting report from city medical examiner on the cause, Baltimore Detective Vernon Davis said Wednesday. Matthew King’s body was found at 3:39 p.m. Monday at a residence in northeast Baltimore.
“I think someone hadn’t heard from him in a while,” and called the police, Davis said. No further details were available. Davis said the medical examiner’s findings could take a week or two.
Funeral arrangements are still pending, Harris said. a online fundraiser was established to cover costs.
‘HIGHWAY TOWARDS NOWHERE’
“Matt was over 6 feet tall and his love and passion for his family was as tall as he was tall,” his mother said.
He understood the importance of giving back, which came naturally, Harris said.
“As a community activist, his dedication and hard work spilled into the streets, with every step he took an act of selflessness. Through his tireless work in his community, everyone could see the visionary he was. He never set limits for himself. It showed in the life he lived, ”she said.
In a social media post, Matt’s family asked for “time and space”:
Still stunned friends and former coaches remembered Matt King as an outgoing personality who welcomed tough challenges and inspired others to embrace his vision. He was looking for little sisters Nicole and Charleigh, was friendly with everyone and was considering running for the Baltimore council, they said.
“He cared more about everyone than himself,” said Robert sparano, a Morris School District administrator who was a classmate of Matt at the University of West Virginia.
“No matter what he thought, he could do it. He worked very hard, ”said Gordon Drewery, one of Matt’s coaches on the 2004 MHS football team that made it to the state final.
Matt even convinced skeptical friends that he could bypass Harlem Park, a neighborhood in western Baltimore in decline for decades due to disastrous urban renewal projects and discriminatory housing practices. An unfinished “highway to nowhere” symbolized the region’s bleak outlook.
“If you look around,” he said in a Baltimore Sun interview in July, “You see the strengths and the bones of what was once a great community. We must come back to this great community, and even surpass it. “
“AN EXCELLENT ROLE MODEL”
Matt created his community development company in 2019 to “correct some of the systematic racism that exists, which has been impacted by urban renewal but also redlining and the highway to nowhere,” he told a Baltimore TV station in June.
Even at the age of 9, I played baseball and basketball in Morristown Neighborhood House, Matt said what he thought and demanded fairness, family friend said David Gilliham.
As an adult, Matt seemed more interested in creating affordable housing than acquiring wealth or power, Gilliham said.
“He just seemed to want to be able to give people the opportunity to experience what he’s been through – that is, opportunity, housing, stability, security. He grew up in a good city, and that influenced him, and he wanted to do that in Baltimore.
Matt never forgot his roots, said Gilliham.
“He was related to where he came from. He grew up with working class parents. It was his base. That’s what he wanted to offer.
Matt had a master’s degree in business administration and was pursuing another in nonprofit management in social entrepreneurship at the University of Baltimore. He has remained active with Omega Psi Phi, his fellowship at WVU.
A one-off intern for the former representative. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th Dist.), Matt moved to Maryland in 2010. He worked as an insurance agent, started rental investment and financial services companies and became part owner of a hair care business in serving residents of nursing homes, among other clients. , indicates his curriculum vitae.
Lessons in leadership and teamwork were learned as a lineman, on offense and defense, for the Morristown High School Colonials. He was appointed captain in his senior year.
“I always thought he was a great role model for our young players,” said the former head coach. Jean Porcelli.
“He personified all the things that we look for in our program. Matt has always done the right things, on and off the pitch, ”said Porcelli, describing him as intense and very competitive, but highly regarded. “I’m still a little shocked that he’s passed away.”
Engaged to get married, Matt seemed in a good mood when he texted on Friday, Drewery said. Drewery sent his friend Bible verses daily, “to keep him grounded.”
The special education teacher admits he was among the skeptics at first.
Matt “had these big ideas of what he was going to do. And he saw Baltimore as a place where he could do great things, ”Drewery said.
“Everything was about to come to fruition. And then this tragedy happened.