Davis resident and passionate community contributor Matthew (Matt) Blake died February 20, 2023, blindsided by a very brief fight with a rare and aggressive cancer. He lived a bold, joyful 48 years with family who adored him, and among a stunning number of friends, colleagues, and neighbors who loved his thoughtful and creative approach. Together we’ll begin to process the devastation of losing him.
Matt charted a course throughout his life toward a variety of experience and discovery, which included an unconventional series of experiments, wins and fails, highs and lows. Silly and social as a young boy, he loved exploring rivers, ocean, and desert in search of creatures and treasures. Strong-willed as a teen, he made fast and long-lasting friendships across all groups and types. He found his way to University of Colorado, Boulder for an undergraduate degree in Biology, spending his free time helping to build his parents’ house in rural Colorado. As a young adult, Matt evolved into a shape that resembles the responsible, thoughtful colleague and loyal friend that most of us knew.
After meeting the incomparable Dr Sarah Brown Blake, Matt further matured in his approach. He combined his intelligence, stubbornness, and humor with a newfound level of purpose and dedication, and a gravitational pull toward social and environmental justice. Together, Matt and Sarah engaged in a bit of soul-searching in New Orleans and Austin, graduate school at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and UC Davis (respectively). Their exuberance drew to them hundreds of people who consider themselves lucky to have met them both.
Matt could (and did) fascinate friends and family with stories and skills across a range of eclectic topics: woodworking, environmental science, travel, making beer, bread, and hot sauce (separately), philosophy, raptors, management practices, desert reptiles, plumbing, and how to catch Cazadero crawdads with a bit of cheese on a piece of string.
Because he engaged in all his chosen activities with intensity and dedication, those of us left behind will notice pronounced gaps across the Davis school communities; One Health Institute; Davis Live Music Collective, Davis Music Festival, and Davis Media Access, particularly KDRT; Odd Fellows; and the many other groups who called him friend and family.
He fully committed himself to everything he chose to do, but three people rose to the top of every list: this fourth-generation Bay Area native made his family an unwavering priority. He poured himself into making sure that his wonderful wife and twin daughters knew how deeply they were loved. Because of them we got to see the very best of this particular Matthew Patrick Blake: they brought out depths of Matt’s character that even those who already loved him only suspected lay hidden within him.
Regardless of how we knew Matt, we’re all connected in missing him. We’re especially focused on supporting Sarah; their daughters Delilah (13) & Charlotte (13); Matt’s parents, Anne Horgan (San Mateo, CA), Patrick & Mickey Blake (Aguilar, CO); his sister, Christine Harkin and nephews Huck & Beckett Harkin (Berkeley, CA); his brother-in-law, Joe Harkin; and Matt’s aunts, uncles, and cousins; Sarah’s parents, Carol & Paul Altuna (PA), Michael Brown & Phyllis Clark (NY); her sister, Jenny Brown Knoche, brother-in-law, Christof Knoche, and nieces Aya & Isa (NY); and Sarah’s aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Plans for a celebration of his life are pending. For those who want to channel their love for Matt into charitable giving, some of his favorite causes were:
Raptor center: https://crc.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/donate or any of the programs within the One Health Institute https://give.ucdavis.edu/VOHI
Davis Media https://davismedia.org/
To support the Blake girls’ education: https://gofund.me/1299ec6d