Obituary

Matthew Garrity

August 9, 1970 ‑ March 18, 2022

Matt was born just after midnight in Madison, WI. on August 9, 1970 to Peter and Kathleen (Ryan) Garrity. He was close to both parents though their marriage ended when Matt was six. By the time he was 18, Matt had lived on both east and west coasts, and places in between. He once lived on a farm in Wisconsin with Pete and Kathy and the members of a rock band, which undoubtedly influenced his life. Later, he lived in Northern California with Kathy and her husband Darryl Klippsten, then attended a boarding school in upstate New York.

In 1987, Matt left school in New York and came to Seattle where Kathy and Darryl now lived. He completed his senior year at Shorewood High School in Shoreline, then moved to Colorado to live with Pete and his wife Jeanine and attend Metropolitan State University of Denver. Pete was a feature film producer, and Matt enjoyed being on several movie sets. He was a special effects technician on one film and the transportation director on another.

Matt eventually moved back to Seattle and became a partner in a construction/tile business. He was also a bartender, and became the manager of The Triangle, and later The Ballroom, in the Fremont neighborhood. Matt and Sharon Quamme met while working at The Triangle. They became a couple just before Matt took a solo trip to Spain and Morocco. His adventures became great stories he loved to tell, and he also announced when he returned that Sharon was the “one”.

Matt and Sharon married on February 20, 1999. From a poem Matt wrote for the occasion: “A man and a woman are filling out a marriage license… Giving each other the gift of commitment, steadying themselves for whatever may come… It takes guts, it takes laughter, and it takes life, and if I run into that married couple 20 years later and I see wisdom in their eyes and color in their souls, and trust in their hearts, it’ll make me happy and I’ll sit over dinner with my wife, open a bottle of red and tell her all about it.” Matt and Sharon lived this, and had two beautiful daughters, Lily Indigo Peach and Margot Alexie.

Matt received his first guitar at age 12, and never stopped playing. In 2006, he was the catalyst that inspired a group of experienced musicians to form the band “17th Chapter”. Matt was the songwriter and lead singer. In their heyday, they played multiple times at such iconic venues as The Crocodile, The Tractor, Sunset Tavern, High Dive, The Ballroom, Neumo’s, the Fremont Fair, Oktoberfest in Fremont, and the annual Doe Bay Fest on Orcas Island. They released their first CD at The Tractor on April 26, 2008, and one of the songs was played by college radio stations across the country.

After several years in the restaurant industry, Matt began working as a staff member at Clearwater School. He taught and played sports with the kids, taught them how to play instruments and write songs, and directed plays. He was fun, sensitive, caring, and always available to anyone who needed help, attention, or just a hug. After many enjoyable, challenging and rewarding years, he decided to leave in 2015. He wrote: “From an early age I had thought about being a teacher and I arrived here at the right time and place to become something much more rewarding than the teacher I imagined being. Somehow I was allowed to be here as myself: my goofy, loving, caring, ridiculous… yet intense and competitive self. A potent kind of magic exists in this place, and…I will carry a part of it with me wherever I go.” One of Matt’s former students wrote, “He was an incredible friend, inspiration, mentor and true light of joy in this world.”

While still at Clearwater, Matt had also become a popular Trivia Night host at The Ballroom, and in August 2015, Matt became the manager and part owner of Giddy Up Burgers in Fremont/Ballard.

Matt played for years on a co-ed softball team, and on a league for men over 40. Matt loved the games, championship quests, and his teammates. He was a great fielder and power hitter. In high school he played varsity tennis and was on the #1 doubles team. He excelled at basketball and played it all his life. He also loved to golf and was an avid skier. As a teen he won a bronze medal in a race on Hunter Mountain in New York. He said he felt the most free while skiing, and cherished annual ski trips with friends.

In September 2020, after a sudden seizure in late July, Matt was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. In spite of two surgeries and often debilitating side effects, Matt lived as fully as possible. He, his family and a group of friends had an unforgettable weekend celebrating Matt at the Blue Elk Inn in Leavenworth. He inspired the 17th Chapter band to come back together and record new material for a second album. He traveled to Palm Springs, Colorado, the San Francisco area, and Oregon. He played golf whenever, wherever he could, and recorded two beautiful songs at Bear Creek Studio. He spent as much time as possible with family and friends, and always made sure that everyone he loved knew it. And his friends and family endlessly loved and supported him.

Matt said he was prouder of his daughters than anything else. He supported, praised, and encouraged them, spending countless hours with them doing what they loved. He instilled in them a solid foundation of love, humor and self-confidence that will be with them throughout their lives.

Matt was a talented musician, prolific songwriter, rock star, poet, improv comedian, dancer, life-long gifted athlete, beloved teacher, sports fan, voracious reader and book collector, child whisperer, film buff, and hilarious story teller. Matt had an indescribable quality that made people feel good when they were with him; he was open hearted, attentive, giving, compassionate, insightful, forgiving and empathetic.

Matt’s favorite place in the world was always home, with Sharon and the girls. A phrase in one of Matt’s songs is “There’s a light in my heart that feels like home”. Matt passed away at home on March 18, 2022.

As a good friend said, “We lost Matty G… but first we were blessed with Matty G and for that our worlds were made better”.

Matthew was preceded in death by his grandparents John and Margaret Garrity and Joseph and Phyllis Ryan, and by his step-mother Jeanine Garrity. He is survived by his wife Sharon and daughters Lily and Margot, parents Peter Garrity, and Kathleen Klippsten (Darryl), step-brother Cory Klippsten (Ece), step-brother Jeffrey Garrity, and step-sister Kelly Garrity Stiller (Tim), his parents-in-law Michael and Arlene Quamme, sisters and brothers-in-law, aunts and uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins

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