To our dear customers,
We’re writing this memorial in honor and celebration of a very special team member. Matt Kelley, a Gunter Pest & Lawn expert for 26 years, passed away in early August. He will be dearly missed by our work family and by many of his “fan club” customers who’ve requested Matt and Matt alone as a technician, many for almost three decades. It’s easy to understand why so many of our longtime customers felt connected to and taken care of by Matt. He grew up in a large Kansas City Irish Catholic family with many siblings and attended Rockhurst High School. He had a very simple and humble aura to his character – one that radiated kindness and openness.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s when our founder (our current president Noah’s great grandfather) Reggie Gunter started the company, he built his customer base from word of mouth. Current Gunter customers now in the 80s and 90s have told us that when Reggie Gunter would come to their home, he provided more than a service, it was more of a “visit” with a friend.
Reggie often would help single moms with light helpful work around the home like changing lightbulbs or helping a family by bringing up the paper to the door when he arrived, and he always had that easy demeanor that was gravitating. It was Reggie’s goal for all future Gunter employees to radiate kind, helpful service like this. A clean-cut employee with a smile on their face and a helpful hand. Our founder would’ve been proud to have Matt on his team if he lived to see him work. Matt was just that guy – kind, extremely dependable, helpful, knowledgeable, and had a humble poke-fun demeanor that always puts a smile on faces.
There was something unnamed and hard to put your finger on about Matt. But almost always, he walked into our office after a long route with a smile and usually liked to sit and chat for a while. For those who know Matt, the below testimonials won’t be a shock, if anything, we hope they’re comforting. For those who never had the chance to meet him, it’s hard to put into words what he was like, so these testimonials from his favorite customers and our team members will help.
Words From Matt’s Gunter Family Team Members:
“I hired Matt in 1997. What I loved about him was that he was very consistent. You always knew what you would get. He got to the office early every day, before anyone else. He was always neatly dressed in his ‘Gunter greens’, and he always showed up. In his 25 years working for Gunter, I bet he didn’t miss more than two or three days of work. That is a rare trait in today’s society.”
– Jay Gunter Besheer, third-generation past president (and grandson of our founder)
“When I was first starting out at Gunter in high school, Matt was the technician I always rode along with for training. He was always extremely organized, and even when our day was a packed schedule he was always calm. Customers loved him and whenever we showed up to a house or business, you could see a sense of relief on their face, almost to say, ‘Oh thank goodness. Matt’s here.'”
– Noah Gunter Besheer, fourth generation past president (and great-grandson of our founder)
“Matt was the first person to train me in pest control, and the guy that I rode with on my 1st day working at Gunter Pest. We were only a couple of jobs into our day, when we had a unique situation with our customer. I was not ready for the situation and was ready to quit. I went out to our service vehicle and told Matt that I was done. I was quitting.
Matt reassured me that this was a unique situation and would never happen again (it has happened again lol). I asked Matt to take me back to my car so that I could clock out and leave. He flat out refused, and we worked the rest of the day laughing and joking about what had taken place. I have been at Gunter Pest Management for over 23 years working with Matt daily. I would not have made it 2 hours were it not for him. I can’t image what the last 23 years would have been like for me and my family were it not for Matt
I miss you, friend!”
– John Myers, Operations / Sales Manager, and Gunter team member since 2000
“He was my favorite technician, no lie. I gave him as much crap as I possibly could because that is how I show affection. I also used to accidentally scare him all the time.
I will miss him greatly.”
– Holly Hall, Office Manager
“I drove with Matt my first day at Gunter 20 years ago for training & we became friends quickly. He was always willing to answer my questions no matter what. I still haven’t gotten over the news of his passing. When you work with someone that long you assume they will always be there. I’m going to miss you my friend!”
– Steve Hicks, Assistant Technical Director and Gunter team member since 2011
Words From “Matt’s Fan Club” Customers Of Over 25 Years:
“I’ve been a customer for over 30 years. As soon as I started requesting Matt since he joined the team, he was successful and he’s the only one who’s ever come to our house since then. He knew what to do, and I never questioned it. He was here and knew he was doing his job and doing it well. When he’d leave, I’d say, ‘I’ll see ya next time…You just spoil us!’ And he would smile that sweet smirk of his. I think fondly of him, and he’ll be missed by many of us.”
JIM & PHYLIS SHAFFER from Mission Hills, Kansas
“My husband and I bought our house in 1998 and the previous owners used Gunter before we moved in. We’ve always requested Matt, and he always seemed to know what he was doing. He had so much experience, and when I showed him an infestation or asked questions, he always knew the answers. I even had my daughter request him for her home. He was soft-spoken and very genuine. We felt an Irish Catholic big family kinship. Our family was similar. We knew him as thoughtful, professional, and kind.
– Cheryl McCarthy from Leawood, Kansas
“Matt was our pest control technician since we lived in our first home we bought in Westwood Hills, Kansas about 25 or 26 years ago. He was always so polite, pleasant, and just a great person. We were really pleased with the work he did, he was always friendly. Just a really fine employee and human being who we enjoyed. It was more of a visit than a service. We loved to sit and talk with him for a bit before he moved on to his next job.”
– John and Marge Wagner from Prairie Village, Kansas
“My husband and I are really sorry to hear the news about Matt. When I received your call, I was in a meeting but when I looked down at my phone I saw the words MATT KELLY because THAT is how I identified GUNTER PEST CONTROL in my contacts. It was MATT that took care of us and our home. He was a fine representative of your company and he will be greatly missed. I bought this home in 1998 and MATT was “my guy” from the beginning. We wanted no one else. One time we had another tech…One time and I put in a special request for Matt…all the time. We could trust Matts’s timely arrival, careful applications, professionalism, and consideration for our pets, garden and home. Matt was soft-spoken and knew his pesky bugs. He had knowledge of the chemicals that eradicated them and we trusted him. I was often here when he came on his quarterly visits and he was always pleased to have a friendly conversation before he left for his next of many appointments of the day. I’m sorry I missed him a couple of weeks ago.
Matt came to service my home during tough times. My cancer battles, my husbands airplane crash. He always took the time to ask how we where doing. He was happy to hear I was retiring and talked of his own retirement someday, a thought that makes me so very sad. He never got to see his own retirement. Matt was steady and kind and always smiling even when you knew he was tired. I never heard him complain but rather he always seemed grateful, a characteristic that goes a long way. I will miss his spirit.
He spoke of his daughter and grandkids and I can only imagine the loss they must feel. I know his “family” at GUNTER will miss him too. We should all have a toast to the steady, easy going nature of that nice, sweet trustworthy man.
Cheers! Matt! YOU where loved.”
– Jan Lea and Brian Thompson from Brookside, Kansas City
Additional Testimonials From Friends And Long-Time Customers:
“Matt made a lot of friends up at Patrick’s in Waldo (his favorite bar). During the day after work, a couple guys including Matt have a few beers after work. I used to tease Matt Man on Sundays about what he was making for dinner for the next week, he would smile in his cute smile and say, ‘chicken or pork’ and wave. Matt would cook all of his meals for the week all in one day! Everyone would always joke that Matt could write a book. He would sit there quietly and listen to people tell stories or tell their secrets, all while always having a smile on his face!! We all know that our conversations died with him. He’ll always be remembered, and he’ll always be missed!”
Love you, Matt!
– Mary Pat, Patrick’s Bar in Waldo
“My husband used to talk his ear off. He was very efficient, competent and a hard worker. He was always so friendly, down to earth. Just one of those people who was just the salt of earth. He kept our home pest-free for over 20 years since we moved into this house.”
-Carlos & Jennifer Sada from Prairie Village, Kansas.
“Very very sorry to hear this news. I guess it was just a few weeks ago I asked Matt when he planned to retire and he said he hoped to retire soon. I think I had only been a customer for five or six years and Matt was simply always pleasant, a bit wry and only cared about what I requested. In the best way he did not seem to care as much about following the rules as he was about taking care of my needs. My loyalty really came from his willingness and ability to help me control any pest issue that came up. He spoke a little about his grandkids but not much else. He always came across to me as good guy, more complex than he showed a customer on the surface. He always showed a bit of a mischievous side that did get to know about. My condolences to his biological family and to his Gunter family.”
–Keith Weisz from Mission Hills
This has been a memorial for Matt. We hope wherever you are now is pest-free! We will miss you, Matt.