Remembering Matt Hoff: 1988-2008

Elle Mohs

Matthew Thor Hoff, BSM 2006 graduate, passed away on Tuesday, October 7 after a long, hard battle with bone cancer. Matt is a son to Jeffery and Carol Hoff, as well as a brother to older sister Nicole and younger brother Michael Hoff, a current senior. Matt was also supported during his journey the past two years by many friends, the Benilde-St.Margaret’s community, the University of St. Thomas community––where Matt attended college––and his girlfriend of three years Laura Russ, a 2007 graduate.

Matt’s final year at BSM was both memorable and successful. He performed well in school and had a victorious football season, leading the BSM football team to the section finals as a captain. In the spring of 2006, Matt began his lacrosse season, where he took on the role of captain again, hoping to lead them to victory as well. However, his season ended quickly during an early game versus Eden Prairie where an accident on the field caused him to break his arm as well as dislocate his shoulder. Matt was upset to end his season so soon, but took advantage of his great leadership skills and continued to be a team supporter and motivator from the sidelines.

By the end of the season, Matt expected his arm to be almost mended, but it was far from healed. His arm had swelled to double its size, and Matt and his family knew something was wrong. Matt had an MRI to see what was causing his arm to heal incorrectly. The doctors found a blood clot located in his arm, which they assumed was the reason for all the swelling. They gave Matt medicine to dissolve the clot, and hoped for good results.

Once again the swelling did not decrease. Matt went in for another MRI and the doctors found that not only had the bloodclot not dissolved, but there was also now a cancerous tumor in his arm.

On June 19, Matt was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma (bone cancer). He immediately went through chemotherapy and continued it for the rest of his senior summer. Unfortunately, Matt knew that college wasn’t going to be an option for him in the upcoming year, and he should focus on recovering.

Unfortunately, the chemotherapy was not working, and on September 17, the doctors resolved to amputate his left arm and clavicle that contained the cancer. This loss was very difficult for Matt as it meant he would no longer be able to participate in sports, something he was very passionate about.

From 2007 to 2008 , Matt went through some more scans to confirm he was on the road to recovery, but unfortunately the amputation hadn’t helped as the cancer had begun spreading to his lungs. Matt underwent two surgeries to attempt to remove the tumors.

Recently, before this year’s homecoming, Matt went in for another check-up and the doctors informed Matt and his family that there was nothing more they could do. The cancer had consumed his lungs and no amount of surgery could help him. On October 7, Matt finally ended his battle with cancer surrounded by family and friends.

All School Vigil

After the last home football game on Friday, October 10, the BSM community gathered on the softball field for a candlelight vigil to remember Matt and the legacy he left behind.

As students, faculty, parents, and football players exited the stadium they were given a single candle, each passing the flame passed around until everyone’s candle was illuminated. The gathering of people stood in silence and remembered and prayed, while songs such as, “You Raise Me Up” and “Angels and Heroes” were played, and Matt’s football jersey representing the #9 hung proudly on the backstop.

The service began with Mr. Jeremiah saying a few words about Matt. “Matt never lost his battle with cancer because he never let the disease touch his heart or his spirit,” said Mr. Jeremiah. This was followed by two prayers from Mr. St. Martin and 2006 graduate Betsy Van Cleve. The service ended with a few memorable words from Matt’s close friends, roommates at University of St. Thomas, and former classmates Tim McNulty, Rudy Luther, and Jules Levy.

Community was more visible than ever during the vigil. “The beautiful thing about our school is how well we come together in a time of crisis. That is really what a community of faith is all about,” said Mr. Jeremiah. Everyone whose lives Matt had touched as well as students who never knew Matt personally were gathered to give their respect and prayer. “There’s something more here than just school spirit; it’s truly the Spirit at work within our community,” said Mr. Jeremiah.

At the end of the vigil, Mr. Jeremiah asked everyone to share love with one another and give each other a hug. Without hesitance, everyone extinguished their candles and embraced one another. The sense of support and love was felt more than ever that night. The hugs didn’t end until more than an hour after the vigil service.

Stay Strong Thor: Making It Permanent

The Hoff family, the Russ family, as well as many of Matt’s close friends and their parents gathered at Leviticus Tattoo Shop in Uptown on October 12, the Sunday after Matt’s funeral to get tattoos in honor of Matt’s life.

Mike Hoff, Matt’s younger brother, got a tattoo on his upper left shoulder blade of a circular image of an intrically branched tree with the words “Live Free” woven into the branches, and “Thor” (Matt’s middle name) woven into the roots of the tree. Below the image was an inscription of “1988 MTH 2008″, Matt’s initials and the years he lived. “Originally, Matt was planning on getting the tattoo. He knew he wanted an image of a tree, so he had been researching images on the Internet for a while, but never really found the right one,” said Mike. “Then, one of Matt’s friends and high school class mates, Katy Anderson asked an artist friend to sketch up a drawing of tree and Matt thought it was perfect.” Maddy Davis, another one of Matt’s close friends edited the image by adding in the words “Live Free” and “Thor” to the branches.

Mike Hoff was the only one to get the tree image tattooed on him. A majority of the men present recieved tattoos with the name “Thor” inscribed in a hammer. Not only was “Thor” Matt’s middle name, but it is also the Norwegian God of Thunder, who always carried around a hammer to declare his strength, a strength that Matt displayed through his battle with cancer

Matt has left a legacy on the Benidle-St. Margaret’s community and many others. He was a kind-hearted, successful, and talented young man. He is a true hero and inspiration to all, and is loved and missed by many. Rest in peace Matthew Thor Hoff.