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Matthew Hunter Withee

May 7, 1977 - September 27, 2020

Matthew Hunter WitheeMatthew (Matt) Hunter Withee passed away peacefully on September 27, 2020, at the age of 43, leaving behind many loving family and friends in sad disbelief.

Born on May 7, 1977, to Wayne and Chris Withee, Matt lived most of his life in Jefferson, OR, graduating from Jefferson High School , where he was active in F.F.A., and later attending  Linn-Benton  and Chemeketa Community Colleges.  Matt loved the out-of-doors and worked for many years for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, as an Equipment Operator at the Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge.  He enjoyed the work and especially enjoyed several work assignments to the Washington D.C. area and Hawaii.  He also served his community as a member of the Parks and Recreation Board.  Wherever you saw him, he had a smile on his face.

In 1999, he married Sara Ziemer, his high school sweetheart.  In 2005, his son, Trevor, was born, followed by Drew in 2007.  This began Matt’s greatest calling in life, being a Dad.  He loved his family with all of his heart and especially loved hanging out with his boys.   Building bonfires, sharing peach rings, eating graham crackers with frosting, riding motorcycles, camping, fishing, attending practices and supporting his boys at all of their football, baseball and basketball games, were some of the ways he loved to spend his time.  He enjoyed supporting them, their friends, and all the kids he encountered, in whatever they wanted to do.  He was proud of all of his Jefferson kids and claimed and supported them as his own.   A recent trip to Bend dirt-biking with his boys is a special memory.  He and Sara also made sure they raised their boys with love and care and concern for others.  He had a soft spot for his Grandpa Hunter, and made sure the boys got to know him and spend time with him before he passed.

Matt enjoyed many friends from all different walks of life. Easygoing and dependable, he would stop whatever he was doing at the drop of a hat to go chat, have some fun, or to help wherever needed.  He loved adventures and especially enjoyed a recent trip to Japan with his brother-in-law, Cy.  He also enjoyed researching and talking about World War II history, and loved red ‘63 split window Corvettes. He had good solid friendships and will be missed by many.

Matt is survived by his wife Sara, his sons Trevor and Drew, his parents Chris and Wayne Withee, his brother, Dustin and many aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, and nieces and nephews, who will miss their Uncle Poot.  He also leaves behind many good friends of all ages.   He was predeceased by both sets of grandparents, his nephew Noah, and his dog, Ruger.

Matt was taken much too soon and will always be missed and remembered with love and a smile.

A Celebration of Matt’s Life will be held on October 3, 2020, at 1:00pm at the Jefferson High School Football Field (2200 Talbot Rd SE).  All are welcome.  Please bring a mask and a lawn chair, and practice social distancing guidelines.  Burial will be at 10:00am, at the Hopewell Cemetery for family and close friends.   If you are looking for a way to pay tribute to Matt, a donation to Jefferson Parks and Recreation would honor his commitment to kids, as would showing kindness and a helping hand to those you meet along the way.  Assisting family is Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.

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Guest Book Entries

So, sorry to the Withee family

So sorry for your loss. What a great guy. I will miss talking with him. If you guys need anything, please let me know.

Matt always had a smile for everyone!  All kids love him. He and his peach rings will me missed greatly!

Matt and I rode the same bus to school. I was the first stop so when he got on we always smiled at each other. Then on the way home we sat together and chatted. He always had a smile on his face. He was a fun person to be around and always made you feel welcomed. Rest In Peace! 

Sending our love, hugs and prayers to you all. Happy to help in any way we can.

What very sad news. Prayers for all of you. May all of your memories provide you comfort. I’m so sorry for your loss.

I didn’t know Matt well, but I know he Was a positive force in many lives, and will be missed terribly by all those who knew him. Sara, Trevor, Drew... we love you and are holding you in our hearts. 

I went to school with Matt. He always had a smile on his face. He was a great man. I have been praying for the family ever since I found out about his passing. God will get you though this tough time. Hugs to you all. 

So,so sorry love you guys here for you if you ever need anything

Sending love to the Withee family.  So sorry to hear of your loss.  May your memories guide you through your grieving.

I was sad to learn of his passing today. The world lost a funny, caring, warm and all around good guy. The heavens are rejoicing with his arrival I am sure as he brings a smile to those around him. Praying for guidance and peace for your family during this trying time. You will be missed.

My thoughts and prayers to the Withee family , I am so greatly sorry for your loss .

I never knew Matt particularly well but I can tell he had a great character because of his two great sons Drew and Trevor whom I have known since I was little. Whenever I did see Matt I remember he was always laid back and had a smile on his face. Your family will be in our thoughts and prayers God bless. 

Monday nights will never be the same without you Matt!!  Thankful that we got to share life together. We love you! 

I graduated with Matt and Sarah. Praying for their family I cant imagine what they are going through. Sorry for your loss

Matt was one of my most favorite people to banter with. He was so dang quick witted. I will hold dear those golden moments in time between us. Jerry and I send all his wonderful family our love and any support you need.

I will always remember the kindness that Matt showed my son, Manny. Manny’s now 13 but still remembers Matt holding him up to the basketball hoop in the middle of a game so he could “make a basket”. I love you Sara, Drew, and Trevor and my thoughts and prayers are with you all. 

We were so very sorry to hear the news about Matt. We are praying for all of you. We remember Matt as a very kind & caring person, with an amazing smile.  May sweet memories of Matt bring joy in a time of deep sorrow. Sending our love & prayers ~ Len & Pam Cruze & Family

This is such a tragedy.  We share your devastation, and pray for God’s comfort and healing.  We love you all very much.

So very sorry for the hole this loss leaves!! Sending much love and prayers to all those in pain!

On behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Wildlife Refuge System, we extend our deepest condolences to the Withee family for your loss.  Matt was a key Refuge operations staff member responsible for an immense amount of field work, habitat restoration,  and maintenance for all of Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge.  He was always kind, smiling, and enjoyable to work with and will be sorely missed by his Refuge family.  Along with his warm character, his contribution to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been valued by many and he will be well and widely remembered.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you during these sad times but we hope with time your sense of loss will be replaced by the many great memories of the good times with Matt.

My thoughts and prayers are with the entire family right now is especially the boys at this time.

Jory was just talking about him the other day. Matt just being the kind and neighborly guy that he is, just stopped by the farm to say hi and chat. He will be missed. Keeping you and the boys in our thoughts and prayers. 

I had the joy and privilege of working alongside Matt for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Ankeny NWR the last 6 years. I cherish my time with Matt; he was an incredible friend and colleague. He was very passionate about his work in conservation, but it was clear his number one thing in life was his family and he talked about them all the time. My heart breaks for you Sara, Trevor, and Drew. Thoughts and prayers to the Withee family.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you, so sorry for your loss.

So sorry to hear about Matt. We send our love and we are praying for the whole family. 

Oh Wayne & Chris, family...
I am so shocked and sad hearing that Matt passed away. He was an amazing person with such a kind heart. I am so sorry! We love you and will be praying for you and your family during this very difficult time.

All our prayers, love and hugs being sent to the whole family. Especially Sarah, Trevor and Drew. May you feel some comfort in the friends and family you have holding you up during this unimaginable time. 

Thinking of you Sara and the boys, and praying that God will pour out His Love and peace upon your lives.

I knew Matt through his school years & then watched him be such a good dad to his sons. Matt has such a great smile & was always willing to help. He always made me smile. He will be greatly missed. Sending big hugs to Sara, Trevor & Drew, & thinking of all of Matt’s family & friends. So very sorry. 

Guys, I am so sorry to hear about Matt. He was exceptionally kind and was protective and encouraging as a sort of "big brother" figure to me in youth group/at church growing up. It made me feel so special when he was so excited to introduce Sara to us when they started dating and then to share the big news when they got engaged. He just has such a tender heart. My heart hurts deeply with you all. Matt, we love you and miss you, brother.

The Brown family (Andre, Nichole, AJ and Nyeelah) is sending our deepest condolences to Sara and the boys. We will never forget your beautiful family.  We had so much fun after those Youth Stars games and you invited us along to go to Dairy Queen like we were family.  Please know that AJ will always be there for Trevor and Drew and we all are praying for your healing and comfort.  We are all better because we got to know Matt!  Stories so similar marrying the high school sweethearts in ‘99 and going to build our families. What a joy!
Rest In Peace Brother
Andre Brown

Sara, Dustin, Amy, Chris, Wayne, & the kids - we were stunned to get the news.  Matt was always such a great person.  Even if he didn't have the time, he took time for anyone who needed a word, a hand, or anything else.  When my sister Hayley was visiting from Southern California, we took her over to Ankeny, hoping Matt could take her on a special tour.  She works for the environmental division of the Army Core of Engineers, making sure that wildlife and plants aren't harmed more than absolutely necessary on projects done by the Core - such as a dam - and that appropriate mitigation is done.  Because of crazy schedules, we had not called ahead, and just took a chance that Matt would be there.  We arrived just as he, Sara, and the boys were leaving for a game (football, of course) at OSU.  Even though they were running late, Matt took the time to grab some information sheets and marked areas Hayley would enjoy.  I appreciated that so very much, and so did she.   The next time my oldest / biggest (6' 3") brother Steve visited, he wanted to "go where we took Hayley".  Word of Matt's habit of helping people, and the beauty of Ankeny, had spread throughout my large immediate family in California, Nevada, Utah, and Tennessee!
Thank you for sharing your son / brother / husband / uncle / dad with us.  We love you all, and will miss him dearly. 

Matt's outgoing personality and heart warming smile will be missed by all. We always enjoyed seeing him and the family. His teasing and laughter were infectious. Our heart and prayers are with his family and friends. We will treasure the light hearted ribbing he gave us. Aloha A hui hou.

We are so very sorry for your loss! Our thoughts and prayers are with you. The Campau's

I’m so incredibly sorry for Sara and the boys.  I wish I could be with you. Love you Sherry Maupin

I have enjoyed watching Matt & Sara raise their sweet family in Jefferson. I will miss seeing Matt at the boy's games. I will miss his funny sense of humor, and his gentle ways. Rest in Peace Matt

To the Withee family, we are so sorry for your loss at such an early age. Take refuge and embrace your memories of this wonderful son, father and friend. 

Our prayers and condolences to the whole family. So very sorry for your loss.
Greg and Lisa Hall 

Our condolences and prayers are with the Withees in the passing of Matt. May God’s comfort be realized in all of your lives and hearts. Praying for you! 
Jim and Jan Tusant

Wayne and Chris, We are so sorry to hear about the loss of Matt. We pray that you, Sara, the boys, and Dustin and his family feel Gods presence during this time. Jerris, Michelle, and Mataeya

Withee family, I am so, so sorry for your loss.  There truly are no words and I just feel this huge hole.  I still can't wrap my mind around it all....  Matt was such a big part of the Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge team.  To caretake and steward a place for that long.... Ankeny and Matt are forever bonded.  I worked with Matt since 2015 and I still remember the first time meeting him.  He was so easy to connect with.  Right off the bat we talked about raising boys and parenting and cars and working in Refuges and everything in between.  He was so easy to talk with and he immediately made me feel a part of the team.  I'll be forever grateful for that.  

There are USFWS folks still talking about the 2017 Eclipse team at Ankeny and all that your family did to make people feel at home.  That's because you all are amazing people and welcomed new faces to the Refuge with open arms.  The cinnamon rolls still haven't been forgotten.

One of my favorite memories of working with Matt also included you, Trevor and Drew.  You helped your Dad haul trees to the Ankeny Hill Nature Center site and helped us put hundreds in the ground that day.  He was so proud of you, I could tell.  I could see why - you are incredible young people.  

I'm going to miss working with Matt.  He was just so easy to connect with and so fun to work with.  He always kept it real and was so easy to relate to. He will be SOOOOO missed.  

Sending you so much support, strength, love and caring. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

So sorry....
Samantha Bartling

We  are so sad and shocked at Matt’s passing, he was a good friend and wonderful and dependable coworker he will be sorely missed. Our heart’s go out to the entire Withee family, God bless. 

Walt and Denise Hammond

Im very sorry for your loss to all of your families and friends,I also wanted to tell you I have donated some $$ for all of you and your sons Love Kayla Lopez and Giovanni Lopez and family

My heart is with all of you.

Praying for you and the boys. Matt will be missed. April Gay, Holly and Sofawni

What can I say about Matt?  Just thinking about him brings a smile to my face.  I met Matt in 2013 when I started working at the Willamette Valley NWR Complex. My first impression -  wow did that man love to farm and wow was he ever good at it. Ankeny wasn’t just any piece of dirt to Matt, it was special to him and he was an awesome caretaker.  He was always willing to help where needed and I knew I could count on him.  It’s hard to fathom a world, an Ankeny, without Matt.   Sara, my heart breaks for you and the boys. I hope you find some solace knowing how much Matt was liked and respected.