Matthew Charles King, Jr.
January 9, 1939 – June 24, 2020
Matthew Charles King, Jr., son of Matthew C. King Sr. of East Greenwich, RI and Margaret Noonan of Newton, MA, took his last breath on June 24, 2020. He died in his home, surrounded by family, with his beloved wife Karen holding his hand. Matt’s recent ALS diagnosis allowed time for him and his loved ones to reflect on a life well-lived.
Matt was a child of Boston. Born in Newton, MA in 1939 he was raised in Cambridge, the oldest of seven brothers and sisters. Resilient is a word often used to describe him, a trait that was put to the test during two traumatic childhood events: His mother’s passing when he was just 11 years old and a tragic fire that burned his family’s home to the ground. He would rely on his Irish Catholic upbringing to weather those storms. The values instilled through the church would serve him well his entire life.
Matt’s favorite place on earth was East Greenwich, RI, where he spent many of his early years growing up. Those New England roots also fostered a blue-collar work ethic he learned from his father and passed along to his four surviving children: Tammy Sweet of Phoenix, Matthew Charles III and Christian Michael of Atlanta and Christy Kathleen Cassel of St. Petersburg. He’s also survived by his two sisters Helen King McGah of Arlington, MA and Kitty Grabelski of Vail, AZ.
Dancing played a big role in Matt’s life. After leaving the house at the age of 18, he moved to Florida where he later answered a newspaper ad in search of people interested in teaching ballroom dancing. He would become the studio’s most popular instructor. “It’s all in the knees,” he would say. It must be told, his grandmother (Nana) was less than thrilled with his initial career choice, proclaiming, “I always hoped my first grandson would be a priest. And instead he’s turned into some sort of gigolo!” Matt’s grandmother was a profound figure in his story. She had a way of making him feel like the most important person in the world. Later in life, those he encountered would say the same about him.
Matt put himself through college and after graduating from the University of Miami (UM), he set off to make his mark on the world. He started his career with Wilson Meats, transferred to its subsidiary Anderson Meats and quickly became the company’s top salesman. It was there In 1971, when Matt had the opportunity to present to one of Anderson’s newest customers: McDonald’s. The restaurant group heard about this young, hot-shot salesman, with a reputation for his enthusiasm and passion for the industry. They were searching for a concept that would replace fresh beef with frozen patties, hoping to increase production for their growing business. After Matt’s presentation, Ray Kroc turned to the president of the company and said, “Hire that guy.” The rest, as they say, is history. Matt crisscrossed the country, using his wit and charm to convince skeptical owner-operators to adopt this crazy idea. The seventies was the decade McDonald’s became a global giant. Matt’s contribution to its success cannot be overstated. To this day, he’s recognized as one of the pioneer executives responsible for developing the McDonald’s supply chain that is widely considered the envy of the industry.
Matt was married three times. For him, the third time was the charm when he found his soulmate and best friend, Karen. Married 38 years, they traveled the world for work and play. They later settled in Raleigh, NC. She was the love of his life.
Matt had a boundless energy for life. For 18 years, he was a season ticket holder for the Yankees spring training games in Tampa with the sole reason of seeing his beloved Boston Red Sox play their arch-rival. As a UM alum, he loved his 'Canes and he equally supported his “home team” the NC State Wolfpack where he had lifetime season ticket rights.
He deeply cherished burnt garlic bread, a fine glass of Chardonnay, fried clams with the bellies and PF Changs. He excelled at outsmarting squirrels to protect his bird houses. He never turned down a game of cribbage. He always carried around a yo-yo. And Bounty was the only acceptable paper towel in his kitchen – used both for cleaning and as stationary for the encouraging notes he was known to write to family and friends.
Matt took great pride in his six grandchildren: William (30), Ethan (12), Caroline (10), Eva (4), Charles (20 months) and Lucas (9 months). He would often crow about their accomplishments, never missing an important event in any of their lives; from their first steps, to their sports and academic achievements. His grandchildren loved the smell of his cologne. It lingered on their clothes, the furniture and in the guest room, following one of his visits. It would take some open windows and a couple of weeks for that smell to go away.
Matt took fashion tips from no-one. He was equally comfortable wearing a custom-made suit as he was strolling through a hotel lobby decked out in pajama pants and slippers. Both included his signature printed socks and Optimo straw hat. He was cool.
Matt never threw anything away and his collection of stuff was unique and eclectic: antique furniture, vintage postcards, cast iron frying pans, comic books, baseball cards and other sports memorabilia. A die-hard Red Sox fan, Matt would struggle through life relating to anyone who didn’t consider Ted Williams the greatest hitter to ever live. He was as proud of a signed photo of the Hall of Famer, as he was of the championship plaque he received for coaching his son’s seven-year old soccer team. Both hung side-by-side on a wall in his special room of memories.
Matt was an avid reader. He was especially fond of biographies, appreciating the importance of history. He would often scribble the letters NB in the margins. It is short for the Latin phrase, Nota Bene, which means, “To call attention to something important…to take special notice.” The world took special notice of Matt King. He was important to so many people.
A sentimental soul, Matt ended every conversation with a family member saying, “I love you.” During one of his final moments with Karen and his children, he asked them to hold hands. Mustering all of his might, Matt pulled himself up and whispered, “Love is the most important thing. Promise me, you’ll always love each other. Promise me.”
A funeral mass for Matthew Charles King, Jr. will be held on Saturday, July 18th, 11am CST at Old St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Chicago. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only immediate family and close friends will be in attendance. The church will provide a LIVE stream of the service at oldstpats.org.
A memorial mass will be held at St. Francis of Assisi in Raleigh, NC at a future date.
At the family’s request, in lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Ronald McDonald House, 506 Alexander Ave. Durham, NC 27705.
Arrangements by Brown-Wynne Funeral Home, 300 Saint Mary's St., Raleigh, NC.
- Ronald McDonald House, 506 Alexander Ave. Durham, NC 27705
Old St. Patrick's Catholic ChurchDue to COVID-19 restrictions, only immediate family and close friends will be in attendance.
A memorial mass will be held at St. Francis of Assis in Raleigh, NC at a future date
Matthew Charles King, Jr.
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July 2, 2020
Karen, Barbara and I are so sorry to hear about Matt’s passing. Dan Vega called to tell me. I appreciated our working relationship at Dixon.
Prayers to you and the family. Carl Hyde
July 1, 2020
We have lost a wonderful guy. Michele and I feel fortunate and blessed to have spent some time with him and Karen.Karen, we send our love, thoughts and prayers to you and your family. Matt knew that family and friends are what matter in life. God bless you... Michele and Bob Hogan and Family/Boston.
June 30, 2020
Karen, I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of Matt. My husband, Tom Padden, had a close working relationship with Matt in purchasing at McDonalds. There was never a dull moment and they accomplished so much during those years back in the 70’s. It was so touching to me when Matt and Tom McGrath came to Tom’s funeral service in January, 2015. My children enjoyed hearing about those treasured years of their father working with Matt. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time...Nancy Padden, Lady Lake, Florida
June 28, 2020
Karen and Kathleen, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss....My heart goes out to you and your family. So so sorry....you are in my thoughts and prayers. Rosangela DeMello
June 28, 2020
I first met Matt in 1974 upon my transfer to the International Division in Oakbrook.
When the Company acquired the stores in Central America & the Caribbean, I was assigned them to figure out what we had bought. I borrowed Matt from Lionel Root to provide some semblance of uniform control of products coming into the stores. We traveled together on numerous occasions whereupon I found him to be a joy to work with. He was witty and always with a story to tell. But dead serious about quality from our suppliers.
Our paths crossed several times after. Always willing to help no matter what the occasion. He was a great guy to work with and a true friend. It didn’t hurt that we were both from the Boston area.
June 27, 2020
Karen, I am so sorry about Matt’s passing. He was a true gentleman and a very nice, interesting person. He made us feel so welcome when we moved into Linville in 2009. He will be sorely missed by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him.
With deepest condolences,
Jose & Mary Armario
June 27, 2020
Karen and family,
We are sorry to hear of Matt's passing.
He was always gracious, kind, positive and lighthearted during all of our encounters and events.
Always enjoyed talking about our Canes, and he always wore his U ring with so much pride.
Please know we are praying for strength during this very sad moment.
Sending yoU all a big hug from Charlotte,
Jose & Mary
June 27, 2020
Karen, I’m sorry to hear about Matt’s passing. I’ve been in the McD system since 1990. In all my years, I’ve never met anyone as nice, caring and charismatic as Matt. He truly made me feel as though we were long time friends no matter how long it had been in between the occasions when we would see each other. Because of Matt I will always carry the nick-name “Skully”. I’m lucky to have known him.
God Bless you and the family
June 26, 2020
Karen, so sorry to hear of Matt’s passing. He was such a wonderful person, and always had a smile on his face. He would always come by my desk at McDonald’s to speak to me when he was in the office. I always enjoyed talking to him and catchIng up on the latest. You and the entire family are in my thoughts and prayers. May all the wonderful Times you shared together and the memories you made together help you during this time.🙏🙏🛁
June 26, 2020
Karen....I’m so sorry to hear of Matt’s passing. Lynn shared it with me. My heart goes out to you and your family. Prayers and thoughts are with you.
June 26, 2020
So sorry to hear of Matt's passing. Thought the world of him. Spent a week with him in the early 70's in Austin. Texas switching over from fresh to frozen meat. Our paths crossed many times through the years as I became an owner/operator and still doing so. He was one of those individuals in life that inspired me. Please accept my condolences Karen and family.
June 26, 2020
Oh so many!
April 1973, Matt came to my store to teach us how to go from fresh to frozen meat. He made a class on cooking meat look like a Broadway play!
In 1979 I was promoted to area supervisor on a Thursday. I was told to pack for a week, leaving Monday. Matt brought the company G-2 Jet in and took the mid management staff on a trip around the country to see our suppliers. What charisma! In my mind he was a GOD! He continued to show McD’s, especially us in Florida that he was. He was a huge part of putting the Fl Region out front and we all benefited from his many accomplishments. I’m sure he’s working on Heaven’s supply chain right now. Never stop dancing and laughing he told me! Thank you Matt.
June 26, 2020
Mr. King will never be forgotten. One of the nicest men I have known; he always made you feel welcome. He was so generous and always made sure everyone was included and having a good time.
Chris and Matt both have many of the qualities of their dad and he will continue to live through their hearts, love and actions.
I know how much Mr. King cherished his entire family and friends. He will be missed but will always live in our hearts.
June 25, 2020
That's the nicest most heart warming Obituary I've ever read. I could just see him laughing and being all charismatic and charming. Best Boss EVER. Heaven just got a lot more fun, no doubt about that.😘