Havre Daily News - News you can use

Obituary - Matthew B. Walen


October 9, 2017

Courtesy photo

Matt Walen

Matthew B. Walen, 50, a dedicated dad, husband, son and Grizzlies fan, died Sept. 23, 2017, at University of Colorado Cancer Center in Aurora, Colo., from complications after his second stem cell transplant in a many-year fight with lymphoma.

Matt is rooting out typos and critiquing the plays of the Denver Broncos and UM Grizzlies from the other side now.

Matt was born March 11, 1967, in Denver, the son of Bud and Patti Walen. After his parents divorced, Matt split his youth between town in Havre with his mother and the Walen ranch, helping his father and Uncle Bob with the family's cattle herd.

He attended Havre High School, graduating in 1985. He went to the University of Montana and graduated in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism.

He worked at the Havre Daily News, rising through the ranks from reporter to managing editor.

He came to the Billings Gazette as a copy editor and page designer in 2001. He always had a large container of candy at his desk, from Red Vines to Tootsie Rolls and he won many friends in the newsroom with his ability to correct typos and his institutional knowledge of Hi-Line history and, of course, sports.

Soon after coming to Billings, he met Milene. They were married Sept. 13, 2003. Matt, Milene and her son Kyle, then 8, settled in to family life, enjoying road trips to California, Florida, Washington and, of course, Great Falls to see his mother, Patti, and the family ranch as Kyle grew up.

In October of 2009 he was diagnosed with lymphoma, receiving treatment at Billings Clinic and eventually a transplant of his own stem cells at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in Seattle.

He never felt sorry for himself; he took the treatment in stride, joking about having "rat poison" flowing through his blood stream and talking about what he would do when he got better.

He did get better and returned to the Gazette, offering candy and wisdom, talking about how he had the immune system of a baby.

During his remission and healthy three years, Matt and Milene moved briefly to Chicago and eventually to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The cancer returned in 2016 and Matt prepared for another stem cell transplant, this time from a donor.

Despite the diagnosis, Matt kept talking of his plans for post-recovery, hoping to work at a newspaper again and returning to reporting. The next steps in treatment were just hurdles to be jumped en route to that goal.

But his body wasn't in agreement with his mind, and he became ill, finally giving way Saturday, Sept. 23. Milene was at his side as he drew his final breaths.

Matt is survived by Milene and Kyle Morlan; his father, Bud Walen of Havre; his mother, Patti Walen of Great Falls, and many family and friends.

A celebration of Matt's life will be held at the Eagles Club in Havre, Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, from 5 to 7 p.m.


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