Artist’s life cut short as he achieves dream


During his career as an ambulance driver, Matthew Middour took pleasure in showing the ambulance off to kids in the area. He would eventually have five children of his own.

They know he’s gone, but they still listen for his voice. They enter a room half expecting him to be there, but it’s empty. They catch a glimpse of someone who looks like him and turn quickly, but it’s not him.

They know he’s gone, but they still listen for his voice. They enter a room half expecting him to be there, but it’s empty. They catch a glimpse of someone who looks like him and turn quickly, but it’s not him.

It takes time for the heart to accept what the mind already knows.

Matthew Middour died suddenly of heart failure on May 15, 2012, exactly a week after he graduated with honors from Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College. He had a new job that he loved, and all was going well in his life.

“Matt had finally found his niche,” said his dad, Karl Middour. “He fell into a job he loved at Triumph Fabrications.”

Triumph makes machine parts, and 40-year-old Matt was able to combine his creativity with his tool-making work, Karl said.

The family was stunned at Matt’s death. He’d never shown any signs of heart trouble.

“He always took care of me,” said his wife, Brandy.

She injured her leg on the day he died. He took her to the emergency room and picked up her medication, she said. After they got home, he went into the bedroom, sat down on the bed and his heart failed.

Matt had worked at several careers, including driving an ambulance, but his real love was working with his hands. He was an artist who created sculptures, mainly in brass and copper. He also made various kinds of jewelry, including hammered bracelets, woven wire, bead work and chainmaille.

Matt decided to go back to school several years ago, but he was nervous because he just hated English, Brandy said.

“He was extremely shocked to see he had a 4.0 because of the English,” she said.

As they grieve, Matt’s family remembers all of the things that made him a vibrant, unique, multi-faceted individual.

Brandy said he loved T-shirts with silly sayings and mowing the grass and changing tires. Matt couldn’t sit still for long, and he’d come in from work or school and fix things around the house, she said.

“He even worked on his art stuff in bed,” Brandy said.

Matt was creative even as a child, but his parents worried for a time because he did everything in black and white. Then they learned he was color blind, his mother, Jeannette Middour, said.

While Matt didn’t find it to be a limitation in his art, he did have trouble matching up socks, Jeannette said. Brandy said he eventually solved that problem by buying all black socks.

Joe Middour was the “pesky younger brother” who wanted to follow his big brother around. He said Matt loved the outdoors and exploring the woods.

“As a teenager, he just about lived out there,” he said. “Sometimes he let me tag along.”

Matt was the one who inherited their dad’s “perfectionist gene,” Joe said. “He wanted everything dead-on perfect.”

The thing Joe remembers best about Matt is his art, he said.

“Matt didn’t come into his own until the last couple years of his life, and that’s what we want to remember the most,” Joe said.

Family members smiled as they recalled some of Matt’s antics.

His dad said that even as a child, Matt loved working with him on all kinds of projects — cars, carpentry, plumbing — but he wasn’t good at putting things back where he found them. “I never could find my tools,” he said.

That trait followed him into adulthood, Brandy said. There were tools all over the house — a hammer here, a screw driver there.

“He’d never clean up the table on his side of the bed,” she said. “One day, I just piled it all up on his side of the bed, but he didn’t get mad. He never really lost his temper. He’d just fuss.”

Matt’s mom remembers the time he burned the kitchen table. She thought letting the kids do things like light candles at the table would keep them from getting into trouble with matches.

One day, Jeannette gave Matt some birthday candles. She said he mashed them together and lit them all at once.

The Formica table suffered for it.

Matt also liked taking things apart and putting them back together, Jeannette said.

Jeannette said she had a stroller that could be turned into a high chair. When Matt was about 6, he learned the family was going to have a baby. He said he was going to “get the high chair ready.”

“He took everything apart — the screws, the metal legs,” Jeannette said. “We never got it back together, and a neighbor loaned us a high chair.”

Then there was the time he used the attachments to her Singer sewing machine to build a city in the sand box.

“Probably 10 years later, I found some of those parts in the sand,” Jeannette said.

Matt’s passing has left an emptiness in the hearts of his family that can’t be filled.

“I miss him,” his mother said. “But I know I’m going to miss him more.”

The only way Jeannette said she’s been able to live with her son’s death is through prayer and her faith.

Brandy said she doesn’t know how she’s going to get along without him.

“We loved each other so much,” she said. “There was nothing either one of us could do ... that we didn’t get over in a hurry.”

Duane Reddick, coordinator of OCtech’s machine tool technology program, said it was joy to have Middour around as a student and a person.

“I wish all my students were that way,” he said. “He was an artist with everything he did ... who strived to achieve the best.”

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