Matthew K. Howard
  • 65 years old
  • Date of birth: Aug 29, 1952
  • Date of passing: Feb 8, 2018
Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar, When I put out to sea.

It is with a sadness that we share news of the unexpected death of Dr. Matthew K. Howard, Data Management and Communications Coordinator for GCOOS and Research Scientist in the Department of Oceanography, College of Geosciences at Texas A & M University.

Matt’s pioneering contributions to oceanography, ocean observing systems and data management are wide-ranging and countless and matched only by his kindness, desire to help, quick response, wonderful wit and enthusiasm for life.

We will miss him dearly.


The family of Matt requests that in lieu of flowers and cards, a donation in Matt's name to Hospice Brazos Valley ( will be most appreciated.

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by S Johnson on 22nd February 2018

"Sorry to hear of your loss. One of the clearest teachings in the Bible is that dead loved ones will return to life. John 5:28, 29 says, "all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out."  What an amazing promise."

This tribute was added by Karen Stocks on 20th February 2018

"I had the privilege of working with Matt for several years on a collaborative data project. He was a brilliant, skilled professional, but what I remember most is his contagious enthusiasm and good humor. The room always lit up a little more when Matt was in it. I will miss him, as a scientist and as a person."

This tribute was added by Wendy Gamble on 19th February 2018

"I’m still trying to find the words to describe how I feel about  the loss of this great man. I met Matt for the first time in the good ole O&m building elevator. We had many conversations in that elevator; his music preference being one of them. He was an amazing person in his heart and brilliant when it came to his job. I missed him when I left TAMU and I miss him more now. My condolences to his family and wife who he loved dearly. Rest In Peace Matt ❤️"

This tribute was added by bill lingsch on 19th February 2018

"Even know I have only known Matt for a short period of time he was one who left me with a quick positive impression.  He was truly a professional and a leader in Data Management not just at GCOOS but across all IOOS (we were the fortunate regional association to have him).  I enjoyed talking with him about life in general in after hour cocktails at our GCOOS meetings.  I know his recent marriage meant a lot to him.  His work will live on as well as memories of Matt.  God bless his family and may the great memories help in getting you through this unexpected loss and days ahead!"

This tribute was added by Felimon Gayanilo on 18th February 2018

"I met Matt in 2007 when I was with University of Miami, and we were paired to design an information system for one of the Caribbean countries. In 2008, he invited me to start the GCOOS Data Portal.  The early development stages of the data portal were not without us debating on issues. I am most impressed with how he articulates his thoughts and remains open to new ideas. Matt respects the expertise across functional silos, and this rare attribute, made my job so much more comfortable, and I enjoyed working with Matt. He is a colleague and a friend you want on your side, not only during good days when you can share moments in life, laugh at your mistakes, share deep secrets and share a shot of martini or two but especially when the sea is rough. Matt is always there to cover your rear.

I will miss him in many ways!"

This tribute was added by Terry McPherson on 18th February 2018

"A man of intellect, a leading visionary for ocean data management and well versed in many areas. Always a pleasure to discuss life. His towering presence will be missed by all.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family,"

This tribute was added by James Gibeaut on 18th February 2018

"I starting working with Matt in 2010 following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and during the early days of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. He was a guiding hand in establishing the data management for that program. Matt did a lot of important things for science in the Gulf, and he went about it in such an affable way. I’m going to miss Matt professionally, like so many will, but I will miss his camaraderie and kindness, always. My condolences to Matt's family."

This tribute was added by Steve Buschang on 18th February 2018

"Matt and I met some 7 years ago when I joined the GCOOS Team.  I was immediately drawn to his intellect, dedication, and his unique humor.  His passing is a loss  I (we) will feel personally and professionally for quite some time.  My heart goes out to his families, both those personal and professional, of which he was a cornerstone."

This tribute was added by Joe Swaykos on 17th February 2018

"Oh my God...what a horrific loss for us all.  Always remembering your professionalism, dry sense of humor and friendship. May you rest in peace and find comfort in the hands of the Lord. God Bless you Matt and family."

This tribute was added by Edward Kearns on 17th February 2018

"Deepest condolences to Matt’s family and friends. I knew Matt since the earliest pre-IOOS days and he was always a generous colleague — he was the canonical Ocean Data manager that others aspired to be like. Last time I saw him in Mobile this winter, Matt was talking about his plans to enjoy his upcoming retirement. His loss is heartbreaking to his family and all of us..."

This tribute was added by Chuan-Yuan Hsu on 17th February 2018

"It is still having difficulty finding words of my expression, but he is the greatest mentor in my life. My sincere condolences to Matt's family and colleagues."

This tribute was added by Stephanie Watson on 17th February 2018

"If our lives are measured by the people in them, then my life is all the richer from knowing Matt.  I met Matt in 2002 at a meeting at the NOAA Coastal Services Center in Charleston, SC. As fellow ocean data enthusiasts, we bonded over a marine metadata web page that I had created, but didn’t think anyone else had even seen, let alone used.  Matt had.  For 15 years, from my time at MBARI to working with GCOOS, I was incredibly fortunate to work with Matt.  He was thoughtful, committed, helpful, and realistic.  He was also a wonderful friend. He shared jokes, gardening tips, and a glass of wine or two.  He loved to listen to my crazy stories about living in The Netherlands with my husband and two young boys. He particularly enjoyed the tale of me putting the boys, groceries, Orangina, beer, and a 70-pound dog in our cargo bike (called a “bakfiets”) and biking (ever so slowly) to the beach. When I was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma, Matt reached out to me, despite the fact that one of his brothers had died from the same disease.  I imagine it was incredibly difficult for Matt to discuss, but he was still there for me and I will always treasure that.  I will miss him greatly. My deepest condolences to his family and friends."

This tribute was added by Kirsten Larsen on 17th February 2018

"I only got to know Matt this past year or so as I recently moved to the Gulf. However, his upbeat attitude, humor, and dedication to the field were undeniable, and made it a pleasure to work with him.  His presence, knowledge, and contributions will be sorely missed."

This tribute was added by John Farrington on 14th February 2018

"To Matt's family, colleagues, and friends, Condolences. A loss for us all. Matt's legacy of high-quality science and his great human qualities remain inspirations for all. John W. Farrington, Dean emeritus, WHOI, and a GOMRI colleague."

This tribute was added by Robert Currier on 13th February 2018

""Los Angeles...he walks again by night. Out of the fog and into the smog.  Relentlessly. Ruthlessly. (I wonder where Ruth is?) Doggedly. (bark bark) Towards his weekly meeting with the unknown. At 4th and Drucker he turns left. At Drucker and 4th he turns right. He crosses MacArthur Park and walks into a great sandstone building. (smack) "

Matt was one of the very few people I knew that would have instantly started trading lines with me from that Firesign Theatre sketch. The last time I saw Matt was in Mobile, and as we waited for the photographer to get our group picture I quietly said 'Where's your school spirit?'  Matt somehow heard me and promptly answered with  'In the rumble seat, of course! Want a snort?'   We went back and forth with Firesign for about five minutes, to the great consternation of those around us.

I will miss Matt's humor, his vast knowledge of all things data, and his conviction that each developer should have his or her own toolbox and not be told with which brushes to paint. I will miss you, my friend.

Tell Nick Danger the CodeMonkey says 'Greetings', and I look forward to once again being able to raise a glass of school spirit with you."

This tribute was added by Susan Martin on 12th February 2018

"I met Matt in 1989 when Worth Nowlin hired me. I always enjoyed working with him and learned quite a bit about computers from him. He will be greatly missed."

This tribute was added by Steve Baum on 12th February 2018

"I first met Matt in 1984, when a slight employment misunderstanding in ocean engineering led me to seek further enlightenment in the oceanography department.  Smooth-talking devil Bill Merrill took about 30 seconds to convince me to switch to the oceanography side, and when I first visited the 6th floor I felt most diminutive upon meeting Matt and Mark Johnson, both towering human beings who made my neck hurt attempting to look up far enough to talk to them.

In retrospect, it was the best decision I've ever made.  I was privileged to learn from half a dozen of the best teachers I've ever encountered, and they were all physical oceanographers.  And one of my fellow students was Matt.  Our paths were parallel over the next decade or so as we both finished our coursework, got reeled in by the Applied Research Corporation (ARC) group locally led by Tom Crowley and Gerry North, and returned to the department after ARC imploded.  Then the competition to see who could finish his doctorate began, which Matt won easily.  I followed him a few years later, mainly via massive threats from my committee members.

Matt and I had a mutual intetest in gardening, especially when it came to hot peppers.  I happily remember the first time we each visited each other's gardens when he lived over near Harvey and I on Foch Sreet. When I moved away from Foch to a place without any garden space I gardened vicariously through him for several years, until Barbara and I built a place out of town with plenty of gardening space in 2011.  It wasn't until last year that we had Matt and others out to see the place, but I was very pleased when he enjoyed what I'd done with the garden as much as I did.  When he and Eileen moved to a new place I kept riding him about how many raised beds he was going to put in.   Just a few weeks ago he gleefully informed me that he'd just finished a large L-shaped raised bed at his new place, and that he'd bought 20 large bags of perlite as part of a custom soil with which he was going to fill it.  He also inquired about any spare plants I might have for him.  I said there'd always be spares for him and that I'd be more than happy to help him with his new raised bed.  That I'll not be able to do this makes me as sad as anything.

We've been calling each other duderonomy in the halls of oceanography for a very, very long time.  Goodbye, duderonomy, and I know you'll find happy trails wherever you are, and probably find stranger and more fun music than I could.  Party well with your brothers and Frank Zappa, and I'll be along soon enough to join the celebration."

This tribute was added by Carroll Hood on 12th February 2018

"Rest In Peace Matt. You will be missec"

This tribute was added by Amy Merten on 12th February 2018

"I'm so shocked and saddened to hear about Matt. He was wonderful, kind, super smart, and had a fabulous sense of humor. My thoughts are with his family and colleagues. Amy"

This tribute was added by Chris Elfring on 12th February 2018

"Matt was a leader in the data world.  The GRP will miss his behind-the-scenes guidance, especially our top data staffer Lauren Showalter.  Loved the 4 monks photo ..."

This tribute was added by Jen Dawson on 12th February 2018

"I'm sitting here staring at the computer that Matt bought for me- we loved this computer! Every time I'd see him we would sit together and make the computer do cool stuff. Although I've only known Matt for a year, he instantly became a mentor to me. His expertise and knowledge was profound but everyone knows that. What struck me about Matt was his ability to make you feel like you were just as special as him. I looked forward to every call and every meeting when he was a part of it. This is going to be hard but Matt would want us to continue on with the work he paved the path for. I'll never forget his support and friendship..and I'll always think of him when I visit New Orleans. Hope you're sipping a gin on the rocks my friend, your cool and classy ways will always be cherished. My heartfelt condolences to Matt's wife and family."

This tribute was added by Jennifer Bosch on 12th February 2018

"I will forever remember Matt as a kind, gentle man who always greeted me with genuine joy to see me.  He brought to the IOOS community sage wisdom and a fantastic sense of humor.  I will really miss him.  My condolences to Matt's family as well as his GCOOS and TAMU colleagues and friends."

This tribute was added by Lauren Showalter on 12th February 2018

"Matt was a wonderful man and will be truly missed. I used to laugh and roll my eyes after he would put up the final slide of any presentation. That image will always remind me of him. I will miss his council and support greatly."

This tribute was added by Dale Crockett on 12th February 2018

"Conference calls were always more enjoyable if Matt were involved, and that's saying a lot. We met face-to-face only a handful of times, but I knew him more through calls and emails. I will miss him!"

This tribute was added by Jeremy Cothran on 12th February 2018

"A kind person with always a kind word."

This tribute was added by stephan howden on 11th February 2018

"I am fortunate to have had Matt as a friend and colleague. I was always in awe of his skills and knowledge in all aspects of ocean data management, and grateful to benefit from them. Matt was a great person to converse with, whatever the topic, because of his intellect and sense of humor. He is missed very much. My sympathies to his family."

This tribute was added by Pasquale Roscigno on 11th February 2018

"Matt Howard was a quiet man with a towering intellect. He was a foundational pillar to the GCOOS-Regional Association and a major contributor to its success. Eternal Rest grant onto him. May he Rest In Peace."

This tribute was added by Nancy Rabalais on 10th February 2018

"An excellent oceanographer, creative thinker, data wizard and dear friend.


This tribute was added by Jon Pye on 10th February 2018

"I was shocked and saddened to learn of Matt's passing. He could always be counted on for enjoyable, no-nonsense talk and was a big part of what made my visits to DC memorable. I'm very glad to have known him, if only in part."

This tribute was added by Barb Kirkpatrick on 10th February 2018

"Although Matt and I only directly worked with each other for 4 years, the respect and trust I had in him made it seem like we had been working together for decades. He was kind, funny, and always there to back me up. He was my wingman."

This tribute was added by Debra Hernandez on 10th February 2018

"Matt's leadership in the IOOS community will be sorely missed, as will his perspective, humor and welcoming nature.  My very sincere sympathies to all his family and colleagues."

This tribute was added by Porfirio Alvarez on 10th February 2018

"Matt was always an authentic character always friendly, ready to help and collaborate, especially, I can say that his attention to me and other colleagues from Mexico was always respectful and kind. Matt's contributions to the world of oceanography in the Gulf of Mexico have been magnificent. At this moment, all the memorable experiences come to mind, the wonderful opportunities to share with Matt through GCOOS for more than a decade. Dear friend, this is not a farewell, just a "see you soon".

Matt siempre fue un personaje autentico siempre amable, listo para ayudar y colaborar, en especial, puedo decir que su atención para conmigo y otros colegas de México siempre fue respetuosa y amable. Las aportaciones de Matt en el mundo de la oceanografía en el Golfo de México han sido magnificas. En este momento, llegan a mi mente todas las experiencias memorables, las maravillosas oportunidades de compartir con Matt a traves de GCOOS desde hace mas de una década. Querido amigo, esta no es una despedida, solo un "hasta pronto"."

This tribute was added by Yixin Luo on 9th February 2018

"Matt is a great guy. My sincere sympathies to you and your family."

This tribute was added by Cynthia Pyc on 9th February 2018

"Absolutely shocked and saddened to hear this news today. Matt was always ready and willing to step in and help out in any way possible, and his expertise was invaluable. A huge presence, both physically and technically, with a generous spirit. My sincerest condolences to Matt's family and his extended GCOOS and TAMU families."

This tribute was added by Steven DiMarco on 9th February 2018

"At a time where I am having difficulty finding words of my own expression, the words flowed freely when describing him.

Matt Howard was a internationally recognized leader in Ocean Data Management and his impact and influence can be seen across the ocean community and into national and international agencies. For the past 25 years, he was engaged on many decision making and policy setting panels and committees that defined standards of practice and performance for oceanographic data collection, sharing, reporting, and archiving. Practicing what he preached, he was an outstanding sea going oceanographer for more than 40 years on dozens of seminal oceanographic projects, whose data legacy will inspire future generations and scientific inquery for years to come.

Matt will be greatly missed personally for his infectious positive spirit and attitude. I have had the honor of being his friend for 25 years and his positive impact on my life is deep."

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This memorial is administered by:

Felimon Gayanilo
nadine slimak
Robert Currier


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