[eDebate] Matt Grindy

Veronica Guevara veronica_m_barreto
Tue Feb 17 14:43:59 CST 2009

I miss Matt. I miss him more than words can express. It's almsot unbelievable that it's been a year. 


He certainly was among our finest. He had an exceptional work ethic guided by an incredible heart and an amazing spirit.  He gave everything he had to promoting debate at all levels, telecoaching from chemotherapy sessions, making every one of his debaters special. Their love and admiration is a testament to that. He was also an academic and a scholar. And he relished both roles equally. But most of all, he was a beloved, husband, son, brother and friend. I


'm proud that CEDA as an organization has already set up an award in his honor and I look forward to seeing his memory being honored again this year in Pocatello. 

Veronica M. Guevara
Weber State University
Department of Communication
1605 University Circle
Ogden, UT 84408



From: FijiPapabear at aol.com
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2009 09:31:31 -0500
To: edebate at ndtceda.com
Subject: [eDebate] Matt Grindy

I tried posting this last week, but I wanted to remind this community of the contributions one of the finest people I ever met made to debate.  

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--Forwarded Message Attachment--
From: FijiPapabear at aol.com
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2009 01:07:52 -0500
Subject: Matt Grindy
To: edebate at ndtceda.com

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 
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 academic 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 and Gold." 
"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 today I 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 country. 
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 master's degree. 
His FSU debaters weren't there for the graduation. FSU was hosting the opening rounds of the Florida Invitational Forensics tournament Friday afternoon, and they were in opening rounds of competition. They were following his lead. 
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 credit, it's 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 degree." 
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 and 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 preserved," he said. "I don't have the energy to talk about it, but it made me the person I am." 
Alex Acosta 
University of Miami Alum 

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