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Dr. Matt Wilhite, Ph.D.

Born: Fri., Feb. 8, 1980
Died: Wed., Dec. 12, 2018

Celebration of Life

2:30 PM Sun., Dec. 16, 2018
Location: Mackie-Sinclair Funeral Chapel

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On Wednesday, December 12, 2018, Dr. Matthew Wilhite Ph.D., loving husband and father to three cats, passed away at the age of 38.  Matt died at home in Kernersville, surrounded by friends and family.

Matt was born on February 8, 1980 in Wilmington, DE to Doug and Marie Wilhite.  His earliest years were spent in Delaware; the family moved to Brevard, NC in 1992.  He graduated at the top of his class from Brevard High School in 1998 and in 2002 earned an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies from UNC-Chapel Hill.  He married his high school sweetheart, Heather Todd, in 2003, discovering a life-long love of fried oysters on their honeymoon to Savannah, GA.

After several years working at Whole Foods, where he put his passion for cheese and wine into practice as a buyer, Matt returned to his scholarly roots and enrolled at the University of Iowa in 2005.  Matt earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Religious Studies, honing his professorial skills on unsuspecting undergrads as a teaching assistant while undertaking research on Buddhism and ultimately writing his dissertation on state-sponsored violence and just war in Buddhist tradition.  After he was awarded his Ph.D. in 2013, Matt accepted an assistant professorship position at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan, where he taught for two years. His time there was cut short by a diagnosis of metastatic cancer, and he survived for three years with the help of chemotherapy and the love of devoted friends.

Matt had a passion for writing, filling legal pads and notebooks with musings and observations about the world.  At the time of his death, he was working on a memoir of his experiences in Kazakhstan and undergoing cancer treatment.  He was also a music and art lover, dabbling in both the recorder and pencil drawing throughout the course of his illness.  Matt was a “rock hound,” collecting stones that caught his eye because of their colors, how they reflected the light, or their shapes.  He enjoyed shooting all kinds of firearms and drinking champagne, just not at the same time. He and Heather brought three cats, Maisy, Molly, and Cornelius, into their home over the years, and he discovered he was an animal lover and often commented on the comfort of animal companionship.  Matt will be remembered for his clever wit and contemplative intelligence, a warm, loving heart, and compassionate spirit.

Matt is survived by his wife, Heather, his father, Doug, and two older brothers, Doug (Sara) and Ben (Jodie).  He is also survived by his nephews Will, Jack, Sam, Aidan, and Theo. He was preceded in death by his mother, Marie, and his grandparents.  

A Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, December 16, 2018 at 2:30pm at Mackie-Sinclair-Hawkins Funeral Home, 2001 West Main Street, Yadkinville, NC 27055.  Gather with Heather, along with Matt’s friends and family, for wine, hors d'oeuvres, and a champagne toast to honor Matt and his memory. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations be made to the Hampikian Lab at Boise State University (http://give.boisestate.edu; designation Department of Biology - Hampikian Lab) or Music Makers Relief Foundation (http://musicmaker.org/donations).


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The staff of Mackie-Sinclair-Hawkins
   Posted Fri December 14, 2018
Deepest sympathy is extended to the family & friends of Matt Wilhite from the staff of Mackie-Sinclair-Hawkins Funeral & Crematory Service, Inc.

   Posted Fri December 14, 2018
I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I too have lost family members and know this can be one of the most difficult things to go through. I just wanted to leave you with a scripture that has helped me and let you know your family will be in my prayers. The scripture is Acts 24:15 and it talks about a hope of a resurrection when we could see our loved ones again.

Michelle David
   Posted Fri December 14, 2018
My very deepest sympathies on your loss. It is always so hard to lose a loved one but most especially during the holidays. Hopefully memories of happier times can bring you some comfort as you grieve. Michelle David

Joel Todd
   Posted Fri December 14, 2018
Heather, It is sad. I love you. Dad.

Maureen Walterhouse
   Posted Mon December 17, 2018
I"m so sorry for your loss. I've thought of Matt often over the years. He truly was one of the best graduate students to work with, a remarkable individual. I wish you peace at this time.

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