Some knew him as a former Arkadelphia football player, the son of a pastor. Others knew Matt Turner as a highly, successful news anchor at KNWA in Northwest Arkansas. Here in Central Arkansas, people were just getting to know Matt as a news anchor at KTHV. I was just getting used to Matt Turner, the news anchorman.
Matt's passion was sports. I don't remember the year, but I do remember that Paul Goza was the quarterback for Arkadelphia, when Matt spent a summer and fall as my sports intern. We shared a passion for high school sports , and Matt came up with an idea for a sports documentary. He decided to follow the Arkadelphia football team from pre-season drills to their post-season football banquet.
He did all the work and I did the voiceover. He thought having my voice on the tape would help sell more tapes. I wish he was right. The final product wasn't exactly an ESPN 30 for 30 production , but it was exceptional work for a sports intern. It's been several years, but you can still find that beta tape above my desk. That project is a Matt Turner memory that will last a lifetime.
Shortly after leaving Channel 7 , Matt landed a job with Mike Nail in the KNWA sports office. It was around that time that Matt started dealing with a " mystery " illness. He woke up one day and couldn't move. Matt attacked his illness like the Arkadelphia documentary. He was relentless. He traveled all over the country seeing the best doctors looking for answers. He was a young man dealing with a serious health problem. A son who watched his Dad die of Leukemia.
Just about every twitter message I sent to Matt started with a question, "How are you feeling?". My hope was that someday I would click on a message from Matt, and he would say he was feeling great. I never got that message. Matt had his good days and bad days, but he never let his health interfere with his drive to succeed on and off the air.
Julee, Preslee and Romeo. Julee was Matt's loving, blogging wife ( Her blog is a must read). She was Matt's partner in the mission to solve his medical mystery. Preslee is their miracle child. The most photographed , 20 month old girl in the United States. Then there's Romeo, Matt and Julee's ping pong playing dog, who actually made an appearance on one of my sportscasts.
Today, it's hard to not think about Julee, Preslee and Romeo . A year ago,on this day, Matt died in a one car accident on his way to Arkadelphia.
Looking back, I learned more from Matt and the way he lived his life, than I ever taught him.
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