Time of Sharing
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
5:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
A reception will follow in the Life Story Center.
Life Story / Obituary
He chose to be a difference-maker. His confidence, passion, and loyalty helped in making the difference. Scott Matzka could be honest to a fault, but his no-nonsense perspective coupled with his strike-on-the-opportunity approach to life evened the personality trait out a bit. He held on to his sarcastic ways along with his dry sense of humor up to the last moments of his life. And though he had a stubborn side, he learned to see the compassion of others in his times of need. Scott was a caring husband, a loving father, and a cherished loved one to so many. He was also an incredible inspiration to all.
Scott began his life in 1978, a year in which many entertainment comforts made their debut. Garfield became a widely known household name enjoyed by families reading the newspapers. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John became America's favorite couple on the movie screen with "Grease" while "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" had people shaking in their boots at the local drive-in. Approximately 98% of American households owned at least one television that was almost guaranteed to display the sitcom called "Happy Days" with its catchy song ending with "these happy days are yours and mine."
In Port Huron, Richard and Suzanne (Wickerson) Matzka were looking forward to happy days as they approached their second child's birthday. Just before Mother's Day, they welcomed Scott on May 11th. Scott had the fortune of being the middle child, as well as having both a big brother and a little sister. His siblings, Laura and Daniel, helped shape a childhood full of activity and memories. The family spent quality time at the cottage in Grand Bend, Ontario as the kids grew up. They enjoyed Lake Huron's beauty and the opportunity it afforded for great adventures and exploration.
Beginning early with athletic ability, Scott practically grew up on snow skis. It was especially encouraged since his father owned a ski shop. As fate took its natural course, Scott zeroed in on his brother's ice time in the hockey rink. Though he was good at skiing, once the ice skates housed his feet, it was obvious the sport was a natural fit for him.
Hockey soon became his way of life. By the time he reached Port Huron Northern High School, he was ready to become the best he could be. For his senior year, he traveled to Omaha, Nebraska to play with the Omaha Lancers. Though he did graduate from Port Huron Northern High School in 1996, he returned to Omaha to continue playing there. While in Nebraska, his dream of attending the University of Michigan became a reality when he was recruited for their hockey team. From 1998 to 2001, he enjoyed some of the best years of his hockey career at U of M. In fact, he experienced the joy of assisting the game-winning goal to win the NCAA National Championship in overtime. Of course, Scott was equally driven in his studies, accomplishing goals even off the ice toward a degree majoring in computer science.
In his lifetime, Scott was on the ice professionally for a total of eleven years. Two of those years were in the United States, but his abilities took him to international hockey rinks as well. He played for 9 years in Europe, and he lived in 5 different countries while doing so. His positions included left wing and center. Additionally, he was a player-coach for a team in Europe.
While all of this hockey business took up a lot of Scott's time, nothing was going to get in his way when he met the woman he would eventually call his wife. Scott came to Kalamazoo to visit a childhood friend who played at Western. During the visit, he was completely captivated with his new acquaintance by the name of Catie Lewis. During their first encounter, they spent hours and hours talking and laughing until 7 AM the next morning. After that, Catie was no longer a mere acquaintance, but rather she was the one he wanted in his life forever. He was not shy about this either, as he strong-armed his way into her life and confidently shared he knew they were meant to be together.
However, even with love abound, his hockey life did dictate his direction in life. The two endured a long distance relationship for 2 years because Scott returned to Denmark to play. Eventually, the two planned a ceremony with determination to finally be together all the time. Their commitment to love became official on June 8, 2007, by a Justice of the Peace in Mt. Pleasant. Though this was definitely a time of celebrating their love, it was also a tender time because Catie's mother was dying of breast cancer. The day was special in every way becoming a moment shared with loved ones never to be forgotten.
The newlyweds moved to Denmark and shared all kinds of adventures together. They soaked up the sights, traveled, and shopped. They enjoyed the company of one another greatly and cherished this early time in their marriage. Soon, they found out a new adventure awaited them: parenthood! While in Sweden, they celebrated the birth of their daughter, Reese Elizabeth (2009). In Wales, a few years later, the family was complete with the birth of their son, Owen Scott (2012). Scott was a super dad - changed more diapers than imaginable, cooked meals for the family, and worked tirelessly to keep their home in good working order inside and out. He would do anything for Reese and Owen.
While his family was growing, Scott continued to pursue his education abroad. He attended Cardiff University where he earned his MBA and graduated with distinction. He played his final year of hockey in the same year Owen was born.
The Matzka family returned to the United States, and Scott took a job with Maestro as a sales ambassador. This brought them to Kalamazoo. He enjoyed it there and appreciated the fun atmosphere and relaxed working environment. In time, he changed employment paths to work for Phoenix Group as a consultant. No matter where he worked or played, Scott put forth 100% in everything he did. He would hammer things out, keep it all organized, and see it to the end without exception (he even left behind a spreadsheet detailing the daily normal tasks needing attention).
After about three years working for Phoenix Group, Scott was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and went on disability. His work was nowhere near done, however. In fact, he was just beginning perhaps his most important work of all. Because he had a Type A personality, he met this new health challenge with as much determination as he had met every other throughout his lifetime.
ALS has a fatal diagnosis, and Scott knew this as soon as he heard the doctor say the three letters. However, he never lived his life with regret, laziness, or uncertainty. Instead of meeting this moment in his life with defeat, he decided to stand up and do everything in his power to make a difference. He helped create "My Turn," an organization dedicated to helping spread awareness about the disease.
Aside from striving to be the best husband and father, friend and son, he set his mind to finding a focus to give him a reason to fight for his life. "My Turn" became his guiding light and his reason for getting out of bed in the morning. "My Turn" is Scott's lasting legacy in this world. In his desire to bring awareness, he actually did so much more. He inspired us to see that the world is full of compassion and love if we are only willing to open ourselves up to it.
Scott's children are also part of his lasting legacy, for he tried to teach them as much about life as he could. He wanted them to understand the importance of purpose and humility. He left them with his best friend knowing that she would continue to teach them these same values. His concern for Catie and his children never wavered even when he was faced with declining health.
Sadly, Scott lived his life with incredible strength until he took his final breath. He passed away on December 16th at Rose Arbor Hospice following 5 years of living life to the fullest with ALS. In his forty years of life, he certainly played all shifts with complete motivation and determination. As we reflect on the memories we shared with Scott, we can also find peace knowing that his spirit is always in our hearts. Scott believed that we all have a choice in life: look at life with love and laughter - not sorrow and regret. Stand up and make a difference and do it in Scott's memory; it is his final assist in this championship game called life.
Scott was preceded in death by his mother-in-law, Mary Lewis. Surviving are his wife of 11 years, Catie Matzka; 2 children: Reese Elizabeth (9) and Owen Scott (6); 2 siblings: Laura (David) Wickens and Daniel Pink; parents: Dick and Sue Matzka; father-in-law: Pat (Tami) Lewis; honorary-sister: Jessica Mosier (Robert Clase), and many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Cremation will take place. A Time of Sharing will be held Wednesday 5 PM at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 followed by a reception in the Life Story Center. Services will be held Thursday 5 PM at Centerpoint Church (2345 N. 10th St.). Please visit Scott’s personal web page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com, where you can read his story, archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to My Turn Project Fund C/O Susan Mast ALS Foundation.