Matthew Lee Caldwell was born May 14, 1958 in Port Townsend, Washington. Matt, or “Coach,” was surrounded by loved ones in his final hours and passed away peacefully on May 9, 2023.
Matt spent his childhood years in the quirky place of Port Townsend along with his many (eight, in fact) brothers and sisters. When he wasn’t attending Catholic mass or changing the town sign to “Pot Townsend,” you likely would find him playing basketball or hanging out at the local theater.
After graduating high school and spending a few years at Skagit Valley Community College where he played guard/forward for the basketball team; he set his sights on Pullman, Washington to become a forever Coug at Washington State University. Graduating with his bachelor’s degree in science and physical education, he moved back to western Washington and eventually met LeAnne, the mother of his four children. He became a physical educator first at Meadowdale High School, then onto College Place Middle School, (who’s aptly named mascot were the Cougars, though I’m not sure he enjoyed the blue and orange over crimson and gray). The nickname Coach was rightly earned from his many years coaching boys basketball, football and track at College Place, girls volleyball at Meadowdale High School, and most notably girls golf at Edmonds Woodway High School where they went to state nearly every year.
Teaching, coaching, and being a father were his main passions in life with golf and music coming in close behind. If you knew him well enough, you would recognize those passions through the way he talked. The Teacher: A lighthearted quip, or life lesson sometimes turned into a song lyric or movie quote; que “You can’t always get what you want” by The Rolling Stones sang nearly anytime anyone whined, or “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” from "Jaws" to symbolize a moment when you are lacking in preparation. The Coach: A stern direct order, sometimes shouted, determined to make you perform at your best and push you to new limits; “Hustle!” or “Give me five!” (push-ups, of course) were his favorites. The Father: A soft understanding tone of a man who knew that’s what it takes sometimes to really be there for someone; accompanied by an endearing “sweetheart” or “bud.”
He was an influential man to so many, and a bright presence to so many more. His smile was infectious, and his dad jokes timeless. He is and will be forever missed. Matt was predeceased by his father James, his mother Betty, and his eldest brother Dib. He is survived by his significant other Leslie; ex-wife LeAnne; children Ashley, Jessica, Chad, and Joey. Matt was also a grandpa or as his eldest granddaughter would call him “grandpa with the hat” to Eliana, Mia, and Anthony James, and soon to be grandchild number 4 this June. He also leaves behind his siblings Rita, Chrissy, Tim, Mark, Marcia, Pat, and John; along with many nieces and nephews.
A service for Mathew is currently on hold due to family reasons but is being planned for this summer during mid-end of July in Port Townsend. Further updates to come. And in the words of Matt, "GO COUGS!"