obituaries are necessarily short,
a dry telling of facts. But the death of a very young alumnus
is an overwhelming tragedy. I wanted to celebrate his life. This,
then, is not an obituary but a tribute to Matthew
Valenta, AB'98 ("Deaths," February/00).
left us in July 1999, but those who knew him at the University
of Chicago and beyond will never forget him. A physics major,
academics were of paramount importance to Matt. He was passionate
about his science, and was a dedicated worker in a high-energy
physics lab for most of his College career. After graduation in
1998, he moved to Seattle to continue his studies in the biophysics
and physiology Ph.D. program at the University of Washington.
House in Burton-Judson was Matt's home for all four of his years
at Chicago. He was active in his house and in his University,
serving at times as house president and Chamberlin's representative
to House Council. Matt was unfailingly generous with his time
and friendship, and made an effort every year to get to know new
members of the house and to make them feel welcome. Always one
with strong opinions, he never hesitated to back them up with
action. Many of us remember the zeal with which he lobbied for
100-percent juice in the cafeteria after it was removed. He didn't
drop the issue when he was brushed off, but kept meeting with
ARA officials for weeks until they caved and reinstated the juice.
had an astounding knowledge of current music and a desire to share
his favorites with his friends. He had an insatiable thirst to
learn and a drive to achieve. In the spirit of Chicago, he was
a terrific debater. He often played the devil's advocate to force
us to solidify and support our positions. He cared intensely about
many issues, and conversations with him were fascinating explorations
of everything from religion to scientific ethics. I am a better
person for having known him. Matt touched everyone he knew; he
is deeply missed by us all.
D. Dorn, AB'98