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Matthew James Goebel


Matthew James Goebel, age 48, passed away peacefully in his home, surrounded by family and friends, on May 24, 2024. He was born August 10, 1975, in Southfield, Michigan, to Jim and Virge Goebel. In addition to three daughters, Matt was their only and “favorite” son. He was raised primarily in Marlette and Spring Lake, Michigan. He became the devoted father first to Tynan and Maddie Goebel in 2008 and 2010, respectively, and they have been the absolute light of his life. In 2018, he married his soulmate, Amy, and through their blended family he became the proud stepfather to Brendan and Emma O’Connor, who he has loved as his own.

Matt’s Catholic faith and the love and loyalty he had for his family, friends and God were undeniably his top priorities. He demonstrated these admirable qualities in countless ways as a father, family member, friend, teacher, coach and leader throughout his life. Guided by his faith, Matt always wanted to do the right thing. In fact, when tucking in the kids at night he would always ask them: “Who loves you?” (Us). “Who made you?” (God). “And why did God make you?” (To do the right thing). He had a servant’s heart, and it was extremely important for him to give back to the community – and in doing so he was not only an inspiring role model for his children, but to the many people he has impacted. A few words that describe this amazing man include loyal, dependable, hard-working, funny, honest and faithful. With that said, he was extremely humble, and would most certainly be cracking a joke about all of these accolades. A true leader, Matt was supportive and led by example. He had the utmost integrity and always showed up for people and causes he cared about. He was a constant supporter of his family in every way – always encouraging them to stretch beyond their comfort zones and make the most of every opportunity. Matt always said that “life is full of choices.”  He modeled his choice to truly “live” throughout his year-long health struggle by taking his sons on a bucket-list trip to the College World Series in Nebraska; taking his daughters on a fishing trip to Northern Michigan (their choice); going with Amy on a long weekend to Boston and vacation to Aruba; and continuing to cheer on his children in all their sports and activities – even announcing for his daughter’s varsity soccer team during this past month.

Matt graduated from Spring Lake High School in 1994 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, special education and elementary education from Grand Valley State University in 2001.  He went on to earn his Master of Education degree in educational leadership in 2005 and his Education Specialist degree in 2014 – both from GVSU. It goes without saying that he was a proud Laker! Education was very important to Matt, as was the value of hard work. He never hesitated to remind his kids of the various jobs he held over the years – everything from a paper route to golf course employee to concrete worker to chef – all in an effort to inspire a strong work ethic in them. After earning his undergraduate degree, Matt was a special education teacher for six years at Grandville High School, and also coached varsity football and freshman basketball. In 2007, he became the high school assistant principal for Orchard View Schools in Muskegon, Michigan, and then an elementary principal there for three years. In 2013, Matt became the Assistant Superintendent of Student Achievement at Hastings Area School System – a role he held until he was named the Superintendent of HASS in 2021. Matt has served in that position until his recent retirement, and he was instrumental in numerous initiatives throughout his nearly 12-year tenure in Hastings, including the “What’s Your Plan” program, passing the Bond Proposal in August 2024 and helping to establish the Hastings Performing Arts Center – for which he was recently inducted into the facility’s Wall of Fame.

Matt demonstrated his dedication to numerous community and professional organizations. He served as President of the Barry County United Way and Hastings Kiwanis Club; was on the Board of Directors for the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute for environmental education; served as a Board Trustee of the Barry County Family Support Center; and was a member of the Hastings Rotary Club, the Barry Community Foundation and the Hastings Chamber of Commerce Engagement group – just to name a few. Extending his interests beyond philanthropy, Matt developed a passion for sports at a very young age – particularly for baseball. As a pitcher, Matt developed a strong sense of self-confidence, the ability to thrive under pressure, and ultimately the importance of teamwork – a value that has extended to every area of his life. He promoted the importance of team not only during his many years of coaching – most recently as the head coach of the Ada Lions baseball team for several years – but also throughout his personal and professional life. In his very limited free time, Matt’s favorite hobby was playing golf, and he especially looked forward to his annual golf trip to Treetops with friends. He also enjoyed spending time with family and friends playing Euchre, board games and watching Jeopardy every night with Amy (she “dominated,” although Matt would never admit it).

In addition to his wife, Amy, and four children Ty, Maddie, Brendan and Emma, Matt is survived by his parents Jim and Virge Goebel; father-in-law Tim Daoust; sisters Julie Skelton, Emilie (Dan) Aubuchon and Danielle (Brad) Doolittle; nieces Anya and Natalie Aubuchon and Erin Doolittle; nephews Liam and Caden Skelton and Ben Doolittle; many aunts, uncles and cousins; friends who were brothers Adam (Amy) Bolthouse, Chad (Kate) Bultema, Keith (Jen) Bross and Dan (Penelope) Holden; and Godchildren and many other special friends. He was preceded in death by grandparents William and Joan Goebel and Virgil and Marie Thibault, and mother-in-law Susan Daoust.

Family and friends are invited to attend visiting hours on Friday, May 31, 2024, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. – vigil service at 7:00 p.m., followed by sharing of memories from those interested in speaking – at O’Brien-Eggebeen-Gerst Funeral Home, 3980 Cascade Road Southeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49546. Visitation will also be held on Saturday, June 1, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. prior to the funeral mass at 11:00 a.m. at St. Robert of Newminster Catholic Church, 6477 Ada Drive Southeast, Ada, Michigan, 49301, with family friend Rev. Robert Byrne presiding. Private burial services to be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers or gifts, please consider a donation in Matt’s honor to support his children in their future educational pursuits. Education was near and dear to Matt’s heart and your generosity will help ensure that his legacy lives on through Brendan, Emma, Ty and Maddie for generations to come. Those who wish to contribute can do so through this Venmo link Matthew Goebel Memorial Fund or make checks payable to the Matthew Goebel Memorial Fund, which can be mailed to the funeral home or sent directly to family.

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7 Responses

  1. What a remarkable man from a remarkable family! Knowing that he’s with Jesus makes all the difference! I join you in sorrow by his early passing but celebrate with you as to the life he lived and the hope we share in Christ.

  2. So beautifully well written. Matt was such an inspiration to all. Anyone would be proud to call him their husband, father, son, son-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, nephew, cousin, or just their wonderful friend. He will be missed by anyone who was ever fortunate enough to know him. Matt definitely had the best family that supported him always. We will be thinking about all of you during this sad time saying goodbye to Matt.

    Love Kaye. Jim and Family

  3. We grieve with Jim & Virge and Amy and the children at the loss of a wonderful man. Matt lived life well and in service to others. May his beautiful soul find rest in the loving arms of Jesus.

  4. So sorry for your loss, I did not know Matt well but he seemed like a great guy. I know he was loved by many. My prayers are with the family.

  5. I only knew Matt for a short while. I work in the special education room as a para. He was always very friendly. Gave great advice. Loved his contagious smile. God Bless!

  6. To Matt’s entire family, and especially our classmate and friend Emilie—I am so sorry for your loss. We will pray and keep you in our thoughts.

  7. Matt was a great person and a strong advocate for the students in the Hastings school system. He will be missed. On behalf of the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office, we would like to extend our condolences to Matt’s family.

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