Thorndale Park garden honors memory of local man who died young
Matt Weed was a local website developer and amateur vidoegrapher who died of a rare type of leukemia last July at age 40. It was out of the blue - the disease was only detected after he had complications from wisdom-teeth surgery, and then it struck fast.
Shocked and saddened family and friends, including his 7-year-old daughter Eve, are carrying on his memory with a flower garden at Thorndale Park.
“It's a beautiful way to move through the hurt,” said Tiffany Freeman, Eve's mother, who joined the planting effort last weekend.
The idea came from Cris Stoddard, a friend of Matt's and, like Tiffany, a Westsider. “It's our way of being able to memorialize him,” she said. “He was very much into gardening. This is a way to sit and talk to him.”
Others in the initial planting group were Tiffany's father Edward and her sisters, Sophia and Samantha.
The flowers are in a brick-lined triangle of soil, about 400 square feet in size, at the southeast corner of the park. Until 2003, City Parks would grow flowers there every summer - as they did in numerous medians and other such park plots around town - but that practice ended after 2003 because of city budget cuts. Since then, such locations have been available for planting by volunteer groups or individuals most years through “Springs in Bloom,” a program in which the city provides flowers (892 for Thorndale), a planting design, fertilizer and water.
Growing memorial flowers at the site continues a tradition, although the new group was unaware of that history. Since “Bloom” started in '04, the plot had been maintained by “The Family and Friends of Genny” (led by Mark and Karen Sucharski) in remembrance of their daughter, Genny Sucharski, who had died in a car crash after her freshman year in college. The Sucharskis recently moved from the area.
Donna Sanchez, who manages Springs in Bloom, said the Sucharskis (aided by Genny's grandparents, Tom and Lee Gray) did a commendable job. “Even the year we weren't funded, they put in flower barrels,” she said.
Perusing the city's Springs in Bloom website, Stoddard initially had hoped for a downtown plot, near where Matt had lived. When that didn't work out, she was happy that Thorndale was available. “Look at these beautiful trees,” she said. “Matt would dig this.”
His daughter seemed to approve as well. When Eve saw the city-erected sign that reads “In Memory of Matt Weed,” she went up and hugged it. Stoddard recalled her words: “Daddy would like to be with us.”
Westside Pioneer article