Matthew Elder Paidakovich died at home early in the morning on September 11, 2018. His family and friends will miss him greatly. Matt had suffered from numerous health issues for many of his later years, but he maintained his interests and participated in the activities and opportunities that life sent his way. He was a thoughtful, humorous, quiet, and adventurous man.
Matt was born October 21, 1945, in Corpus Christi, TX, to Matt and Dora Paidakovich and was the oldest of three children. His family soon returned to Silver Spring, MD, where Matt lived before he began his independent journey. His sisters, Lisa Elder and Lynn Godfrey, still live in the East.
Following high school graduation Matt completed a college major in Geology at Northern Arizona University. He channeled his degree into his career, working for and retiring from the US Geological Survey. His work took him first to Alaska, then Golden, CO, and, finally, the headquarters in Washington, DC. Travelers with Matt could always learn about the rocks and terrain they were visiting. One memorable trip brought Matt back to Colorado. His hosts took Matt and his wife to Roxborough State Park, on the Front Range just south of the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater. Matt lost all sense of distance as he described the beautiful and unique landscape we hiked through. We ended too far—in Matt’s opinion—from the parking area, and Matt wore a desperate expression as he faced the uphill climb back. With a little encouragement, however, he successfully hiked back to the car. Geology topics could always draw him in.
Mountains, too, attracted Matt. He was a beautiful skier, carving perfect turns as he descended the slopes. Naturally, seeing Mount Shasta created his need to live here. He got a job as caretaker at the old Ski Bowl and was there alone the night it burned. Reporting the fire brought him to the home of Bob Gray and Bob’s daughter, Mary. More sparks ignited, and Matt and Mary Elizabeth Gray subsequently married in France in 1972.
Matt and Mary remained married for the next 46 years. They had two sons, Michael Joseph and Mark Andrew. Michael currently lives in Reno with his wife, Justin, and daughter, Maren. Mark died soon after birth in 1975.
Matt and Mary travelled wide and far during their marriage. After returning to the States they drove Matt’s VW Squareback to Alaska. On their return home they rolled the car on the AlCan Highway. The crash destroyed their windshield so ingeniously they taped a rear window from a wrecked Buick to the front of the VW and created a memorable sight as they drove into Mount Shasta.
Spirituality was another of Matt’s interests. He studied religion and earned a Master’s Degree in Theology from Washington Theological Union, becoming in his revision of the Neil Diamond song, “Reverend in Blue Jeans.”
Matt and Mary moved to McCloud in 2011, where he enjoyed playing card games and corn hole with family, watching professional tennis on television, listening to political news, and attending St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Matt also was always ready for a meal: home cooking, White Mountain, Lalo’s Mexican, Floyd’s Burgers, and Italian at Mike & Tony’s were favorites.
Friends and relatives will long remember Matt: son Michael and his wife, Justin; granddaughter Maren; sisters Lynn (husband, Bill Godfrey) and Lisa; brothers- and sisters-in-law Doug Gray (wife, Leanne), David Gray (wife, Alison); Don Gray (wife, Joyce); nieces and nephews and their families Paul Godfrey, Jeremy and Holly Gray, Jordan Gray, Tyne Gray, and Kami Gray; and aunts and uncles Johnny Paidakovich, Mary Goldner, Jim and Joan Johnson, and Don and Leora Johnson. Each has a unique and lasting memory of this quiet, inquisitive, searching man. A private graveside burial near Mark will take place in the family plot at the McCloud Cemetery. Please consider donating in Matt’s honor to St. Jude’s Hospital, Shriner’s Hospital, the American Cancer Society, or a charity of your choice.