Vincent Matthew Ary, Jr., known to his legion of admirers as Matthew, passed away unexpectedly last Friday, December 14 in Tucson, Arizona. He was 19 years old.
Matthew was a sophomore in the University of Arizona’s highly regarded Eller School of Business at the time of his passing and was also a proud member of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity.
Almost immediately, the portrait of a very caring, yet carefree young man described by many as a “Gentle Giant” has emerged through accounts from those who knew him best.
Owen Koch graduated from San Marino High School in 2017 with Matthew, who Koch said he had known “all my life.”
“I remember every summer hanging out with him,” Koch recalled of his onetime neighbor. “We would spend a lot of time together. Matt was a funny guy, one of the funniest I have ever known. He always looked on the bright side of things and kept everything bright and sunny. He went with the flow and was always positive and happy. There was never a dull moment with Matt.”
Two of the many areas in which Matthew excelled were football and Boy Scouts, and Mason Dawes, a senior at San Marino High School, had the benefit of Matthew’s mentorship at both.
“Matthew was there at my first Boy Scout campout and he helped me fit in,” Dawes said, his voice conveying a tone of reverence and respect. “He introduced me and some of my friends to other people in the troop. That really helped me fit in, adapt and be friends with others in the troop, because he knew everyone.”
Matthew and Mason later crossed paths on the football field, where they both played defensive end.
“I was a little reticent to hit properly,” Dawes said with a chuckle. “Matthew gave me a few pointers and I remember him telling me ‘the harder you hit, the less it hurts.’ That really helped me be a better football player. I will miss him. Matthew was a really cool guy.”
San Marino High School head football Coach Mike Hobbie was an integral part of Matthew’s life, as family members said that his days on the gridiron were among Matthew’s most treasured. He was a two-way lineman for the Titans and played a substantial role for the 2015 squad that finished the season 15-1, won Rio Hondo League and CIF championships and advanced to the state championship game in Sacramento.
“Matt was a very dedicated, hardworking, team-oriented player,” said a subdued Hobbie. “He was very unselfish and did whatever was best for the team. He really enjoyed playing with his buddies, with his brother and for his school. He had a great attitude toward coaching and wanted to do well. Matt was a valued member of what is arguably the greatest football team in this school’s history. This is a great loss for everyone.”
Taylor Hoffman, a classmate and teammate of Matthew’s, was never far away from his treasured friend.
“Matt’s been one of my best friends since our early days at Valentine Elementary School,” Hoffman said. “For as long as I can remember, Matt’s always been an uplifting, funny, and caring guy. He would always go out of his way to make anyone feel better about themselves if they were feeling down, and if anyone was going through hard times, he was the one who would always listen to their problems and try and help them get through it. In his 19-1/2 years in our lives, Matt left one of the biggest marks out of anyone else I know who is our age. He will be missed so very much.”
Matthew and classmate Joey Duranso became friends as sixth graders at Huntington Middle School.
“Right off the bat, we started hanging out and enjoyed each other’s company,” said Duranso, among other things a football teammate of Matthew’s. “He always knew how to make me laugh and we understood each other’s humor. Our personalities were very similar.”
A similarity that on the rare occasion might have best been avoided, Duranso explained.
“We played right next to each other on the defensive line and we would make each other laugh. Sometimes that attracted the attention of Coach Hobbie,” Duranso said, laughing. “He would get mad at us now and then.”
Duranso quickly became pensive.
“This is a tough thing to deal with. Matt was for sure one of my best friends. This is tough.”
Dave Avramovich was one of Matthew’s football coaches and a leader of Young Life, a popular youth group.
“I loved Matt,” Avramovich said. “I loved the way he cared for his brother and his friends. He was a committed person. What I appreciated most about him was his inquisitive nature. Matt was an incredibly deep thinker; bright and articulate. I loved talking with him. He asked great questions about the most meaningful things in life.”
Born on May 24, 1999, Vincent Matthew Ary, Jr., was a wonderful son, brother, nephew and grandson. He attended Valentine Elementary School, Huntington Middle School and San Marino High School, graduating in 2017.
While at San Marino High School, Matthew played football, which brought him so much joy, because he loved the team and the camaraderie. He was a three-year starter and played both defensive and offensive lines for the team. Coaches Mike Hobbie and Dave Avramovich helped shape Matthew and taught him the importance of teamwork. He was so proud to be part of the 2015 squad that advanced to the state championship game in Sacramento and to have earned a CIF championship ring. He was a team captain in 2016, won the Ironman Award and was chosen for the Dann V. Angeloff, Jr. “Extra Mile” Leadership Award.
Matthew was an Eagle Scout with San Marino Boy Scout Troop 355, which was one of his proudest accomplishments. For his Eagle Scout project, he painted the building that houses the Main Street Attraction, a charitable outreach of NCL San Marino.
Matthew was a leader, trendsetter and in his short life he truly valued his family, friends and his accomplishments he worked so hard to achieve. He loved snowboarding and going to the beach, especially the family’s annual tradition of going to Hawaii over Thanksgiving.
Matthew is survived by his heartbroken family: his parents, Vincent and Cynthia; his brother, Thomas; sisters Mary Jane and Bedina Ary Osbourne; and his favorite grandmother, Mary Jane Boggs.
He had a special love for his uncles, Alex Boggs (Janet) and Jonathan Boggs (Marie); his aunt, Gigi Ary; his uncles George Ary and David Ary; and his first cousins, Ellie Boggs, Logan Boggs, Timothy Boggs and Veronica Boggs.
A celebration of Matthew’s life is planned for Friday, December 21, 2018, at San Marino Community Church (1750 Virginia Road, San Marino, CA 91108). The service will begin at 2:00 p.m. The burial will be a private, separate service.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the San Marino Schools Foundation, with a note in the memo line, “SMHS Football Program in memory of Matthew Ary,” to 1665 West Drive, San Marino, 91108. – Mitch Lehman