Husband, father, ball player, musician, Matthew J. Kuhn, age 89, of Frederick, MD, passed away peacefully on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. Born in Morgantown, WV, he was the middle child of three children of Mary and James Kuhn. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Barbara; daughter, Mary Pat and her children Katelyn and Nick; daughter, Shelli and their daughter Adley; daughter, Kris and her husband Bob Kelm; son, Jim and his wife Cindy (Harkness); son, Mike and his wife Nancy (Anderson); daughter Kimberly; and his sister, Barbara (Maiocco) of Weston, WV.
Raised on a farm in Weston, WV, Matt earned a Bachelor’s Degree in music from West Virginia Wesleyan in 1952 and a Masters Degree in Music from West Virginia University in 1954. It was while attending WV Wesleyan that he had his first tryout with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field — signing as a center fielder. After two years in the Pirates minor league system, he was drafted to serve in the U.S. Army during 1954-1956, where he served as a Military Policeman at Ft Gordon, GA. Completing his service obligation, he returned to the Pirates organization for spring training in 1956. After sustaining a serious hamstring injury at spring training, the Pirates Director of Baseball Operations Branch Rickey converted Matt into a left hander starting pitcher and assigned him to the Northern League with the Grand Forks Chiefs. It was as a pitcher for the Chiefs where he met his wife-to-be, Barbara — he a ball player needing a dental check up, she a dental assistant in a small dental office in Grand Forks, ND. They were married four months after their first meeting.
After his baseball and Army careers, Matt returned to his other passion, music. He started his teaching career in 1957 on the Paiute and Shoshone Indian Reservation in Owyhee, NV, where he taught for four years. He also taught music in Sheridan, WY, for one year.
In 1962, Matt took a teaching position at Damascus High School, Damascus, MD, where he would go on to teach for 31 years, retiring from the school district in 1993. During his tenure as Music Director at Damascus, the Damascus High School Band performed thousands of shows across the globe. From football game half time shows to winter and spring concerts, Matt brought a level of professionalism, discipline, and perfection to the band performances; this included the Damascus Community Band. Every show and concert was designed to pay tribute to a historic event, theme, military service, and the country. He also led the band’s support and performances at hundreds of musicals, local parades, the Cherry Blossom parade in Washington, D.C., the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, TN, and twice representing the United States at the 35th and 40th Anniversaries of the World War II Normandy Landings in Europe. In 1979, the Damascus High School band was the only non-military band to be invited to Europe to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of Operation Overlord. Honored to perform for numerous world leaders and Veterans, performances included locations within England at Bournemouth, Salisbury, and Poole with the Royal Marines; as well as in France at the American Cemetery at Vierville sur Mer and Utah Beach, Pointe du Hoc, St Lo, and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. In 1984, the Damascus High School Band was invited back to Europe to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Normandy Operation, a return trip highlighted by a performance at Normandy with President Ronald Reagan in attendance.
Matt is remembered as a highly disciplined, loyal and dedicated teacher, mentor, and leader. When not teaching, he maintained a strict exercise/running routine, tending to the family’s animals and garden, and enjoying country drives with Barbara in their Triumph Spitfire convertible. The impact of his desire, heart, personality, and incredible work ethic has touched generations of Damascus High School alumni and friends.
A Celebration of Life event will take place from 12 to 5 p.m. Saturday June 13 at the Damascus American Legion, with a short formal opening ceremony from 12:30 to 1 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to “DHS Music,” Damascus High School, Attn: Band, 25921 Ridge Rd, Damascus, MD 20872, and/or “Hospice of Frederick County,” 516 Trail Ave, Frederick, MD 21702 or PO Box 1799, Frederick, MD 21702.