I remember the day like it was yesterday, I was a gangly 19 year old wandering around the University of Toledo’s campus on my second day as a transfer student at the place that I never wanted to go. Growing up in Toledo, I always wanted to get away but decided to transfer back after finding out some family news that needed me to be closer to home. I was with a guy I had just met who had coerced me to walk through to greek village against my interests because he said there would be tons of free food and ladies to meet. Soon after passing by a few fraternity houses filled with people, I came upon a table with 2 or 3 guys standing around it joined with a couple girls. A young lady explained that they were assisting a fraternity rush event for a group that had an off campus house, and that’s when I met Matt. Greeting me with his million dollar smile, we want on to chat for 45+ minutes and a bond right then was created. We hit it off immediately and the rest is nothing but fond memories.
For the next several weeks, “Runkle” as most usually referred to him by, and I hung out multiple times per week. Even though he was nearly 5 years older than me and closer to the end of his college career than me near the beginning, he always treated me as nothing but an equal. Truly, he was one of the main guys who invested in me and “taught me the ropes” of college life. It wasn’t uncommon for me to be walking back to my apartment from class and see him sitting in my parking lot with his windows down in the Durango waiting to swoop me up to hit dinner, happy hour, or some other social event. Likewise, after a long night out he would be banging on my door, waking me up for a late lunch. Matt was a giver, he always knew how to make others enjoy themselves and feel welcome. Being and elder statesman to some degree, Runkle seemed to know everyone, which in turn meant that I knew everyone. He always made sure I was at the best parties, the busiest clubs, and at all the “in” places to be. Usually arranging my ride there and ALWAYS making sure I had a safe way home without me ever asking.
As I began to accumulate a rather large group of friends, Runkle always treated them well and welcome them without question if I introduced them. However, I was different, as if he had taken me under his wing, and he was in charge of looking out for me. I always had my own money, but typically Matt insisted on paying, if I didn’t have something, he would always offer to loan it to me, and his house was like my house…. I was free to come and go as I pleased just like one of his many roommates.
Matt introduced me to different drinks, that I hadn’t heard of including still to this day my favorite shot (surfer on acid, with amaretto instead of Malibu) and my appreciation for cider beers with Hornsby being the original. We would hit Power Hour at the Fieldhouse or Long Island picture night, or any number or our other favorite hot spots and always have the best stories to tell the next day. Not to mention, he made she my 20 birthday was one I will never forget!
I decided not to join the fraternity that Matt was in and this made some of his brothers mad because I had spent so much time around the chapter, but Matt didn’t blink an eye and respected my decision. He would still invite me to the majority of their functions and even when some others grumbled behind the scenes, he always stood up for me and said, “hey, this is the way its gonna be” and it was left alone. I will always respect that because it’s not easy to go against the grain sometimes. He introduced me to so many great guys and just as many nice women, but would be quick to reign me back in if I were going to make a rookie mistake. He often would lean over and say in my ear, “you want the women that you have to buy flowers, not the ones that you have to by Natty Light.” It was always like he expected more from me.
Matt seemed to have it all figured out. He had a great job in his early 20’s and was gong to school. He had his own house, new truck, motorcycle, jet skis, plenty of other cool toys, money in his pocket and a plethora a cool friends. He taught me so many tricks of the trade about college and was a roll model for just being a completely awesome dude. He was so supportive when my dad passed and had a way of always making the situation be alright. I attended so many social events with him, but he also occasionally took me to his family event’s like I was one of them, whether it be a picnic, jet skiing or a Storm game and then even allowed me to invite one of my good buddies to live at his house as roommates totally off my recommendation alone.
The terrific times we had at my lake cabin, or just watching football on his big screen are plentiful. His family had a presidents club parking pass, so we were tailgating VIP style in the 1st tailgate spots at UT way before Himalaya or any other groups were doing it. Man, I could tell stories for hours about my true friend Matt Runkle, and I am sure I would get him laughing so hard that it would just turn into his signature giggle.
Matt was a guy who seemed to have it all! A guy who lived on the edge and in the face lane to those from a distance but always was the most responsible one in the room and had his priorities in order. I hadn’t seen him in person in many years, though we talked often online, through text, or the occasional phone call. I was proud that he went back to Law school because that was always a goal, I was proud of the great husband and father that he had become. I was proud that he gave up drinking socially and had been sober for at least 8+ years! But more than anything, I am proud that I got to spend so much quality time with Runkle and that he was a genuine friend to me! I only wish I would have taken him up on one of his several invites to come spend some time with him out west! I will miss you my man, you are one of the good ones! RIP Brother!