Matthew Gregory Gwaltney
Class: Masters Student (second year)
Major: Environmental Engineering
Hometown: Chesterfield, VA
High School: Thomas Dale (Chester, VA) - Class of 2001
Previous College Education: BS, Civil Engineering (Virginia Tech, 2005)
Died along with Prof. Loganathan and 8 other students in Advanced Hydrology class.
NBC12 Video: Teachers praise slain Tech student
Personal Remembrances From Family/Friends/Colleagues
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Brian Bluhm and Matt Gwaltney Memorial at Facebook.
Newspaper Remembrance Stories
Grad Student Had Things
"Really Good Going for Him"
Credentialed with a master’s degree in civil engineering he was to receive in May, Virginia Tech graduate student Matthew Gwaltney held the ticket to a good-paying job.
One company wanted to pay him $65,000. Another was offering $85,000, according to his grandfather, Granville Gwaltney, 84.
“It looked like he had things really going good for him,” the elder Gwaltney said.
His grandson, 24, died in Monday’s shootings.
The man he called Papa recalled Thursday giving Gwaltney his first taste of ice cream as a boy, rides on a rope swing and exposure to baseball cards. He last saw Gwaltney, a strapping young man on the verge of leaving college for work, at spring break several weeks ago.
“He just had a brilliant mind. You just wouldn’t believe it,” Gwaltney said, noting that his grandson had great name recall. He could recall the names of the more than 100 Virginia Tech undergraduates he taught when not focused on his own studies. His academic thesis, which reflected an interest in river mechanics and restoration, was on methods of predicting droughts.
At Thomas Dale High School in Chester, Va., from which he graduated in 2001, a memorial to Gwaltney references his success as a varsity athlete in basketball and baseball. He was sports editor of The Knightly News.
Basketball coach Eddie Goss told The Associated Press that he once used Gwaltney, who played guard, to fire up the team before a big game.
“I told Matt, 'I need to jump on you real hard, and you’ve got to respond to me to get the team going,’” Goss was quoted as saying.
So Goss uncharacteristically berated Gwaltney, who “always worked hard, played hard. The team came first.” The incident stunned the other players.
After practice, Gwaltney then had asked his coach to tell the team that he suspended Gwaltney for “talking back.”
“You saw all their shoulders slump. But then I said, 'I do have one thing that will help you win this game tonight,’ then we opened the closet door,” Goss said. Gwaltney popped out, and his teammates swarmed and hugged him.
“We won the game,” Goss said.
— Jeff Sturgeon (Roanoke Times, 4/18/07)
York Times Profile:
A graduate student from Chester, Va., Matthew Gwaltney was in his second year of a program in civil and environmental engineering.
He enjoyed working on river mechanics and river restoration projects, but also left time to play basketball and softball with his friends during summers. After graduating from Virginia Tech as an undergraduate in 2005, he went on to win a fellowship that allowed him to study storm water management at the graduate school.
At the time he was killed in Norris Hall, he was helping to teach the lab and workshop portions of several college-level engineering classes, and had several job offers from engineering firms throughout Richmond.
"He was an amazing teacher, always asking questions that made you think and always answering questions to anything you didn't understand," a former student named Christine wrote on an online memorial. "I will always remember his smile. God bless him, his family and close friends."
Mr. Gwaltney had a passion for sports and was admired by friends. As a student at Thomas Dale High School, he worked on the school newspaper as a sports editor, and was voted "Best guy to take home to your parents," the school's principal, Robert Stansberry, told his local newspaper, The Richmond-Times Dispatch.
Claribel Torres, a former high school classmate, posted a message on an online memorial for Mr. Gwaltney, recalling some of their experiences.
"In class, I always made jokes and he'd laugh at me as he would tell me that I could pass the class if I'd pay attention and quit messing around," she wrote. "I never listened and he would still laugh at my jokes. Matt, Rest in Peace. Hope you and my brother can crack up at me from up there. You are missed.
Grad student already had
four job offers
Matthew Gwaltney, 24, a few weeks shy of earning a master's degree in engineering, had already received four job offers.
"There was no telling what he could do," said Eddie Goss, his high school basketball coach, describing the multiple employers who wanted him. "You just can't imagine what a great kid he was."
When Gwaltney graduated from Thomas Dale High School in Chester, Va., Goss recalled, his peers voted him "best guy to take home to your parents."
Gwaltney played varsity basketball and baseball, and was the student newspaper's sports editor. "He was the heart of the team," Goss said. "He pushed everyone to become a better player."
"He was a terrific young fellow," his grandfather, Granville Gwaltney, said. "I told him every time, 'I'm so proud of you.'"
His grandfather described how his grandson taught undergraduates and "knew the names of every student he taught."
Gwaltney, who earned a bachelor's in civil engineering from Virginia Tech in 2005, was a "a very hard-working individual," said Ricky Castles, 25, a graduate engineering student.
To enrich his knowledge, his grandfather said, Gwaltney decided to audit an Advanced Hydrology class. That's where many of Monday's shootings occurred. Also among the victims was the professor, and Gwaltney's close friend, Brian Bluhm.
Washington Post Profile:
When Matthew Gwaltney was a senior at Thomas Dale High School in Chester, Va., Class of 2001, he was voted "the kind of person you want to take home to Mom and Dad."
"He was a great scholar and just a great all-around kid," Eddie Goss, Gwaltney's high school basketball coach, said yesterday.
Gwaltney, a talented athlete who played basketball and baseball at the high school, was also a top student. He went on to Virginia Tech to earn his bachelor's degree in civil engineering, with a concentration in environmental and water resources engineering, in 2005. He stayed on as a graduate student.
"There was such great potential there," Goss said. "He was one of those kids you want to be around."
High school friend Lindsey Potts said Gwaltney seemed quiet and serious but could be funny, too. "He was really shy for the most part," she said. "But once you got to know him, he opened up to you."
Once, when the Dale basketball team was struggling to get motivated for a big game, Goss and Gwaltney pulled a practical joke to fire up the team. Gwaltney pretended that he had gotten into an argument with the coach and had been suspended for the game. He hid in an office while his unhappy teammates put on their uniforms.
"The other kids were, like, 'You can't do this coach,' " Goss recalled. "I said, 'I made my decision, but I have to tell you one thing.' Then Matt came out with that big grin on his face.'"
-- Maria Glod The Washington Post
Chronicle of Higher Education Profile:
Many undergraduates at Virginia Tech remember Matthew G. Gwaltney, a graduate student in civil and environmental engineering, as the teaching assistant who would stick it out for hours in the rain to help students in outdoor labs he oversaw and who laughed so hard at classroom jokes that his face turned bright red.
Mr. Gwaltney, 24, was an only child from Chester, Va., whose research focused on storm-water management and how to predict droughts. He had earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Virginia Tech in 2005.
Christine Vineski, a freshman who had Mr. Gwaltney as a teaching assistant in an engineering class this semester, saw him in her early-morning lecture class the day he died. “Matt was just an amazing teacher and an incredible person,” she writes in an e-mail message.
He was always quick to notice students who needed assistance, she says, such as the time she struggled during a lab to properly wire a circuit. He instantly came over to her and spent more than 10 minutes helping her. She remembers the way, last winter, he tied the string on the hood of his big maroon Virginia Tech jacket so tight that “he reminded me of Kenny from South Park” the animated television series.
On a memorial page established for Mr. Gwaltney on Facebook, a friend who lived across the hall from him in their freshman year at Virginia Tech wrote of his passion for sports. Chris Hawkins said that his friend never missed Hokies football or basketball games when they were undergraduates and that he was also a devoted fan of the Atlanta Braves. “He was always smiling and had an almost unreal sense of being positive about everything,” wrote Mr. Hawkins.
A high-school classmate described Mr. Gwaltney’s “competitive drive.” Ryan Graves recalled a gym class in which Mr. Gwaltney beat him in a left-handed, three-point basketball-shooting contest.
“And I’m the one who’s actually left-handed!” Mr. Graves wrote. “Made me look like a chump, ha ha. I’ll really miss you man.”
Virginia Tech Magazine
Matthew Gwaltney was a second-year master’s student in the Charles E. Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. In 2005, he received his bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Virginia Tech in civil engineering, with a concentration in environmental and water resources engineering. As a graduate student, he taught civil engineering labs and was conducting research on storm water management. Matthew’s professional goal was to improve awareness and education about environmental issues, encouraging people to be proactive in protecting the environment and improving our quality of life.
Matthew was born Dec. 11, 1982, to Karen P.
and G. Gregory Gwaltney Jr. He was a 2001 graduate of Thomas Dale High
School in Chester, Va. Among the awards and recognition Matthew received
were acceptance in the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society at
Thomas Dale and into Chi Epsilon, the civil engineering undergraduate
honor society; Tau Beta Pi, engineering honor society; National Society of
Collegiate Scholars; Phi Eta Sigma; Golden Key International Honor
Society; and Phi Kappa Phi at Virginia Tech.
Matthew was also devoted to his family. He was preceded in death by his paternal grandmother, Frances G. Gwaltney, and two aunts, Kathy G. Huffman and Kimberly D. Poindexter. He is survived by his parents; his step-mother, Linda Gwaltney; his grandparents, Granville G. Gwaltney Sr. and Lee and Donez Poindexter; aunts Cynthia G. Rowe and Kelly P. Amidon; uncles Gerard and Michael; cousins Jonathan, Katelyn, and Rhiannon; and his mother’s friend, James M. Clay.
Through the Virginia Tech Foundation, the Matthew Gregory Gwaltney Memorial Scholarship has been established at Virginia Tech in his memory. For more information and/or to donate to this memorial fund, see VT's Hokie Spirit Memorial Funds page.