By LARRY VAUGHT
It’s never easy to say goodbye to a friend. That’s certainly the case with Danville attorney Matt Walter who passed away Monday at age 41.
I had lunch with Matt Friday at The Still to talk about many things including his passion for Wilderness Trace Child Development Center and some of the issues it was having with the Danville school system. We both planned to be at Tuesday’s night board meeting.
Just last week I recorded a spot for the law firm of Helton, Walter & Associates for use on The Leach Report Sunday Morning Sports. We had plans for his firm to be one of the sponsors for my upcoming SEC/NCAA Tournament shows on WKYB-FM in Danville and for him to join me on air at least once to talk about his beloved Wildcats.
Walter was a Danville High School graduate — my daughter was at Danville High School his last two years — and then went to Presbyterian College where he met his wife. Any time I went to Myrtle Beach, Matt always has recommendations on what to do — or even different routes to take to avoid traffic. When I was there recently for two weeks, I communicated with him almost daily on what I was doing or asking his advice or where to eat or go.
At lunch Friday he recalled playing golf in high school against Kentucky Sports Radio founder Matt Jones. He had taken his three children and wife to KSBar & Grill after UK’s 2019 season so his son, Townsend, could get an autograph and picture from his favorite UK player. His daughters, Annie Capers and Lilla, were not nearly as big of fans but they went as did his wife Audrey, a South Carolina native, because they knew what it meant to Townsend and Matt.
He was also a huge fan of Kyle Tucker’s work with The Athletic and always wanted to talk about Tucker’s latest story, especially the player profiles like the one on Immanuel Quickley recently.
Kentucky fan Holly Harris knew Walter and sent me this message Monday after learning of Walter’s passing: “Hey there. Just wanted to say I’m so sorry about Matt. I loved the column you wrote about his kid and Benny Snell. He seemed like such a great guy and fun dad. I’ll be keeping him, his family and friends in my prayers. Twitter can be such a toxic environment, but I always loved following him and reading his insights on our justice system…and of course Kentucky basketball. I didn’t know him well, but he really understood the challenges in our justice system and he had such compassion for underserved communities, and for people who have made mistakes but are just looking for a second chance. I will miss his great humor and sharp mind.”
That was Matt. No matter the situation, he found the best in everyone. He had a knack for making you laugh and genuinely cared about those who had made mistakes and helping them get a second chance. Not saying other attorneys are not good guys, but he was truly just a good guy.
Centre College basketball coach Greg Mason called him a “great guy and great Dad.” Right on both counts.
“His Twitter was so positive recently,” Mason added.
Yes it was. His last three tweets dealt with Vince Marrow staying at UK making his Valentine’s, the Hunt’s vs. Heinz ketchup debate and thanking Oscar Combs for sharing a story about former Cat Malik Monk.
That was just Matt and for anyone who knew him, that’s how he was all the time. He’s going to be missed by so many and my heart aches for his wife and children. He was one of the good guys and I am so thankful I got to spend that time with him last week and will have that memory to cherish for a long, long time.