Matthew John Power
October 22, 1974 - March 10, 2014
Brooklyn, New York
Matthew John Power, an award-winning freelance print and radio journalist and contributing editor at Harper's Magazine, died March 10 while on assignment in the forest of Uganda. He was 39. Matt possessed an irrepressible sense of humor and a love of adventure that carried him to every corner of the world. He was deeply kind and intensely curious, a soul who cared for all he encountered around the globe.
Matt's work has appeared in the New York Times, Wired, GQ, Men's Journal, Outside, Granta, Slate, Businessweek, The Atavist, and elsewhere. His travels took him to sixty-two countries and all fifty states. He published stories on endangered leatherback sea turtles in Costa Rica; drone pilots in Nevada; urban explorers scaling London's Shard; the elusive tree kangaroo on the remote Pacific island of New Britain; and many more remarkable and brilliantly written stories.
Matt was in Uganda covering the story of Lev Wood, an expedition leader who is on an ambitious year-long challenge to become the first person to successfully walk the entire length of the Nile. They had been hiking 15-20 miles each day along the Nile in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. Matt collapsed on the remote trail and could not be revived. It is believed he succumbed to heat stroke.
A three-time finalist (2005, 2006, 2007) for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists in the International Reporting category, Matt also was a 2006 finalist for the Kurt Schork Award in International Journalism. He is the recipient of a 2005 Lowell Thomas/Society of American Travel Writers Gold Award for Best Land Travel Article, and a 2008 Bronze Award for Best Adventure Travel Article, and was a 2004 Non-Fiction Scholar at Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.
Matt's work is anthologized in Best American Science and Nature Writing 2005, Best American Spiritual Writing 2006, Best American Travel Writing 2007, Best American Travel Writing 2009, Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009, Best American Travel Writing 2010, and is reprinted in the textbook Writing as Surviving, Oxford University Press, 2007.
A Vermonter at heart, Matt loved his backyard garden of thriving blackberries, tomatoes, and squash, all of which were anchored around an apple tree at his home in Brooklyn. Matt was notorious for supporting young aspiring writers, providing them with counsel, encouragement, and connections. The outpouring of grief, love, and respect since the shocking news of his death has spanned the world and generated heart-warming tributes.
Matt was a 2010-2011Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, and a 1996 alumnus of Middlebury College, B.A. English. A devoted and adored husband, son, brother, and uncle, Matt is survived by his wife, Jessica Benko, of Brooklyn, NY, his mother Jane Steele of Middlebury, Vermont, his father John E. Power of Myrtle Beach, SC, his sister Julie Power Ruppert of No. Attleboro, MA, her husband, John and their children Emma and Connor, and his sister Elizabeth Power Robison of Whittier, CA, her husband Mark, and their daughter, Leah.
Memorial services are planned on April 12 in Middlebury, VT, and April 17 in Brooklyn, NY.
Published in The Sun News on Mar. 23, 2014