RIP, Matt Ketchum

I have to pay greater tribute to my friend Matt Ketchum, brother to my best friend Marcia, than I did with that brief post on Facebook. The family moved to Old Saybrook when Marcia and I were about twelve years old. She and her brothers provided something I lacked – siblings. Marcia will always be my sister. And Matt was the younger brother who was sometimes in the way but always offered amusement. (He was never quite as pesty as their youngest brother, Mark. But that’s another story for another day.) I loved Matt’s laugh and the fact that he could make his mother absolutely wild by belching “My Country ’Tis of Thee,” especially when he did it at the breakfast table! He would of course follow this antic with a laugh that got better as he grew up.

We all sort of lost track of each other after college, but then reconnected in the last twenty (?!) years. I managed two visits to Marcia in Denver in the early/mid 1990s and enjoyed seeing Matt both times. He also stopped by on a tour of New England when he was considering relocating to the East Coast. I remember that great laugh when he said the woman at the Durham post office was shocked that he was vacationing in that little tiny farm town!

The thing everyone needs to know about Matt is that he was amazingly talented as a woodworker. As someone who has been visually challenged since birth, (lack of depth perception, nearsightedness, keratoconus) Matt impressed me doubly, triply as one of those people who could see the shape inside the wood. He captured it perfectly every time. That sort of visual talent is an utter mystery to me. I can only appreciate folks who have it. That includes Marcia and Mark, too. A definite family trait.

I’m digging around to find Matthew Ketchum pieces that I own, which Marcia gave me as a present many years ago. I wrapped them carefully and put the package away – and of course can’t find it now. When I locate it, I’ll post a photo.

The last time I saw Matt, he was in his immaculate workroom, making wooden bumpers for a billiard table. One of the big moving companies had broken the plastic ones and was paying Matt to replace them with gorgeous (and durable) wood – mahogany if memory serves.

On a larger scale, he created furniture for the board room of a Denver bank. And he followed his passion, which was making reproductions of antiques. I remember he told me he loved “antiquing” new furniture by letting it sit under water off a pier in Long Island Sound to give it that patina of age. Needless to say the pieces he kept for himself made his house look like it should be on the cover of House and Garden.

So sad that such a talent is no longer with us. I’m still coming to terms with the fact of his death. RIP, Matt.

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One Response to “RIP, Matt Ketchum”

  1. Patty Pettit Says:

    My condolences Liz. I’m thinking of you. Your tribute is beautiful. Matt would be honored!

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