[eDebate] Fwd: Matt Grindy
Sandoz, M L
Thu Feb 12 13:01:36 CST 2009
Can one of you please post this for me? I don't seem to have posting
One year has passed, since Matt left us last year. I know many of us shared
our feelings for him last year when we first heard of his passing, but I
wanted to ensure that he will never be forgotten.
It is never easy to think of someone so young passing, but I hope what Matt
meant to many of us as a friend, and what he stood for in the community will
never be forgotten.
For those of you who never had the pleasure of meeting Matt or heard of him,
please take time to read the following that was published last year in the
Tallahassee Democrat below.
FSU doctorate helps complete cancer victim's journey
By Audrey Post
SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT
Tallahassee's latest college graduation was held in a hospital room, not the
Civic Center, but it incorporated all the special details of a conventional
commencement ceremony, plus a few more.
Decked out in ceremonial cap and gown, Matthew Allen Grindy lay propped up
in his bed at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital as President T.K. Wetherell,
Provost Larry Abele and Communication Dean John Mayo ??? all in full
regalia ??? conferred upon him the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Speech
Communication. There was even a ceremonial "hooding," the attachment of
the gown's hood
signifying the wearer is a Ph.D. that's conducted traditionally before the
candidates march in for graduation.
But the 50 or so people gathered in the hospital room and spilling out into
the hallway had to settle for Wetherell's reciting of the "Hymn to Garnet
"If we were standing in the Civic Center," Wetherell said, "someone with a
much better voice than mine would be singing right now."
Grindy didn't care.
Days earlier, he had ceded victory to the cancer spreading throughout his
body and into his brain, opting out of further treatments that would bring at
best only months, not cures. He focused on trying to manage the
ever-increasing pain and made arrangements to go home to hospice care.
Then he found out Friday morning that graduation was coming to him. Grindy's
father said he asked for an adjustment of his pain medication so he could be
alert for the ceremony. Davis Houck, his major professor, said he insisted
on being dressed in the cap and gown he brought him, not merely having it
draped over him. The price of their dressing him in it, everyone knew, would
bring excruciating pain.
"He was like, 'No, no, put it on. I want it on,'" Houck said.
Wearing the smile that seems to have been ever-present no matter how tired
he was or how intense the pain, the 28-year-old doctoral student and FSU's
director of debate for the past two years accepted his doctoral diploma and
mentally checked one more thing off his list.
"Even though I knew I probably wouldn't survive, there were some things I
still wanted to accomplish. I didn't want my experience to be nasty overall,
and I feel like I got that," he said afterward. "Statistically, with my
diagnosis, I should've been dead a long time ago. But I fought back, and
accomplished another one of my goals.
"It's just a piece of paper to some people," he said, "but it's more than
that to me."
"It's your life's work," said his wife, Amber Bell.
Among his other goals was a successful debate team, which he got last year.
He also was named the top graduate student-coach in policy debate in the
He was still coaching debaters by phone a week ago, as he finished his last
round of radiation therapy at Moffett Cancer Center in Tampa, said his
mother, Cindy Ronnings.
"He's been in debate since high school. He loves it, and he cares so much
for his students," she said.
Grindy met his wife at undergraduate school at Western Washington
University, where she was his debate partner. The couple moved together
to Miami, where
he was assistant debate director at the University of Miami while he got his
His FSU debaters weren't there for the graduation. FSU was hosting the
opening rounds of the Florida Invitational Forensics tournament Friday
and they were in opening rounds of competition. They were following his
And when the guy who never gave up said he'd had enough, his friends, family
and faculty took over. A lot of people wanted to know whether Grindy had
done enough work to earn his degree.
Grindy's father, Scott Grindy of Everett, Wash., said he and Wetherell
played phone tag for two days this week but Friday morning, everything came
together and the ceremony was set for 4:30 p.m.
"FSU does not move this fast on anything," said Houck, who also was Grindy's
co-author of the recently released book, "Emmitt Till and the Mississippi
Press." "A lot of people played a part, but if anyone deserves the
Nancy Marcus. She worked the phones with T.K. and Larry and got it done."
There as even a little "Pomp and Circumstance" on the guitar, thanks to
Andrew Opel, one of the Communication Department faculty.
The degree is not an honorary one, the provost said. "This is a full-blown
Both the provost and the president said they think it's the first hospital
graduation FSU has ever conducted.
Even Grindy himself was surprised, although he admitted with a little
chuckle that "some part of me thought that, after I pass, they'll give me a
doctorate. But for all these important people to come here, for my family
friends to do this for me, I'm amazed."
But being in pain, on medication and overcome with emotion didn't diminish
his awareness that he had a bully pulpit, and he seized the opportunity.
"If I can make a shameless plug in these times of university financial
troubles, my departing wish is debate, particularly policy debate, be
he said. "I don't have the energy to talk about it, but it made me the
University of Miami Alum
The year's hottest artists on the red carpet at the Grammy Awards. _AOL Music
takes you there_ (http://music.aol.com/grammys?ncid=emlcntusmusi00000002) .
**************The year's hottest artists on the red carpet at the Grammy
Awards. AOL Music takes you there.
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