Matt Darko, 34, of Bozeman and formerly of Belt, Mont. died of aneurysm Wednesday, March 27, at a Bozeman hospital.
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Visitation will be held on Monday, April 1, 2013 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Schnider Funeral Home. A celebration of Matt's life is scheduled for Wednesday, April 3 at the Belt High School Gymnasium in Belt, Mont. at 11 a.m. reception to follow at the Belt Creek Brew Pub.
Matt was born on April 27, 1978 in Great Falls, Mont. and by all accounts possessed an extraordinary talent for making people laugh from an early age- all who knew Matt have a story regarding his sharp wit and endless catalogue of tales regarding his many adventures.
His earliest adventures started out on the banks of his beloved Madison River, where his grandfather, Daniel Lloyd Hendrickson, taught Matt how to fish, play cards and cultivate a pallet for Pabst Blue Ribbon. Matt loved the Madison and later taught his nephews, Zaccheus and Xander, and fiancé, Kate, how to coax fish from its depths.
Matt's zeal for adventure led him initially to Bozeman after graduating from Belt High S
chool. There, much to the chagrin of his Grizzly loving family, he cultivated an obsessive love of Bobcat Football. He also honed his skills for being the life of every party. It was at this point is his life that his ability to connect people from various walks of life became apparent. He continued to do this right up until his death, always readily interested in other people's stories, always eager to connect and gather his people together.
Matt's adventures continued after his college experience in Bozeman. He lived in Washington, Oregon, traveled abroad and finally settled for a time in Denver where he met his Marlowe's family. Marlowe's is where Matt began to develop his love for the restaurant industry. Matt credits Marlowe's with teaching him everything he would need to know to develop his own restaurant concept in the future. Marlowe's credits Matt with being one the best bartenders they've ever had due his incredibly strong work ethic, quick wit and love of his customers and staff.
It was at Marlowe's that Matt met the love of his life, Kate Chan. Matt was instantly drawn to Kate's sincerity, work ethic and giant heart. They were engaged to be married this summer.
Matt and Kate left their Marlowe's family in 2009 to begin a new adventure in Bozeman. Kate and Matt adopted a son, Hadley. The smartest pinscher mix the world has ever known. Matt began developing various real estate projects and continued to work towards his ultimate goal, owning and running his own restaurant with Kate.
Drafting this obituary presented some challenge for the author as Matt truly understood that everyone is going to die, but not everyone is going to live. How does one fit a life lived so large and cut so suddenly short into a few lines? The adventures and stories of this man's life are far too numerous and exceptional to suffer diminution by reciting them all. Anyone who knows Matt who is reading this understands. To know him was to know what it meant to live. He was loving, loyal, witty and broke a thousand hearts with his unexpected departure from this world.
Matt is survived by his fiancé Kate Chan of Bozeman; parents Del and Patti Darko of Belt; son Hadley Darko Chan of Bozeman; sisters, Melissa Darko of Missoula and Melanie Darko Graham of Charleston, S.C.; 11 brothers: Andy Bishop of Norfolk, Neb.; Brent Maggio of Bozeman; Brian Belakjon of Great Falls, Craig R. Murray of Denver, Justin Peters of Missoula; Karry Bouvard of Seattle; Nick Williams of San Diego, Lance Chestnut of Belt; Ryan Guedesse of Belt; Vince Mattson of Chester and Walt Anseth of Helena; nephews, Zaccheus, Xander and Joshua; and countless extended family and friends.
He was preceded death by his paternal grandparents, Steve and Josephine Darko and maternal grandparents Danial and Shirley Hendrickson.
Memorials are suggested in Matt's memory to the Belt Valley Bank to assist Kate with establishing her life in the absence of her partner. A scholarship program is being developed and will eventually benefit graduating seniors of Belt Valley High School who have a less than stellar academic and disciplinary record, but demonstrate a genuine zeal for life and all its adventures.
Condolences for the family may be posted on www.schniderfunerahome.com.
Dahl Funeral Chapel
300 Highland Boulevard
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Apr. 1, 2013