Friend of Corning: ‘He was our Mattie’

By: Sarah Devine – Asst. News Editor

“He was the best photo bomber I’ve ever seen, even before it became trendy. He was the greatest male friendship I’ve had to this day. He was truly someone to be admired,” a friend of Matthew Corning wrote Oct. 23 in a letter to Flyer News addressed to the University of Dayton community.

Corning, 27, was found dead Oct. 19 in his University Place apartment at 1200 Brown St., as detailed by a Flyer News report on Oct. 23. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office said officials pronounced the third-year law student dead at the scene at approximately 1:46 p.m. Cause of death is still pending, awaiting toxicology results, which takes four to six weeks, the coroner’s office said. According to the police report, large amounts of heroin and drug paraphernalia were found in the apartment.

However, Jessica Stelzer urged the UD community to look beyond the details in the police report.
“Rather than hanging out in your dorm room trying to figure out how a third-year law student could possibly be involved with drugs, I’d like to introduce you to my friend, or possibly, your friend, too,” she wrote. “I firmly believe that what I’m about to say would be echoed tenfold by the 200 plus people in the church this morning at Matthew’s memorial service. No one would argue with me that Matthew Thomas Corning was a truly remarkable human being. It is simply indisputable. It is fact.”

Stelzer, who attended Mundelein High School in Chicago, Ill. with Corning, described him as “goofy”, “intelligent” and “fiercely loyal.”

“His laughter was deep, like it came from the depths of his belly on a mission to make you start laughing too,” she recalled. “Matthew was naturally intelligent, or bright, or smart, or whatever you want to call it.”

She explained Corning was a star basketball player at their high school and was later inducted into its hall of fame. He had tenacity and a strong drive to achieve and improve both in the classroom and on the court, she wrote.

“Fear didn’t exist with Matthew – he was constantly taking risks, pushing himself to be a better student, athlete, and one day, a great lawyer,” she wrote. “His desire to always be the best at whatever he was doing was something that always amazed me. Matthew never settled for mediocrity.”

Corning’s first priority was his family and “if there was an award for World’s Best Son or America’s Greatest Little Brother, he would win by a landslide,” she wrote.

Stelzer continued, “He was a Christian, a student of life, and the best friend any of us ever had. He was my morning ride to school when my parents took my car away. He was my co-recipient for our high school’s “Worst Driver” award in the yearbook. He was my fellow Dave Matthews Band fan and concert-goer.”

She described Corning as the “glue” that held their group of friends together.

“We all looked up to him, we knew he was something special,” Stelzer wrote.

She wrote she never would have imagined losing her friend at such a young age.

“If you had asked me if I ever thought I would lose Matthew Corning before we got too old to remember each other’s names, I would have laughed in your face” she wrote. “I will forever miss him, but I cherish his memories, the sound of his laughter, the way he lit up every room he walked into, the way he stormed the basketball court like every game was the last one of his life.”

Stelzer offered a piece of advice for UD, a place “he loved so much”:
“Hold each other close tonight Dayton, because life is fleeting,” Stelzer wrote. “Simply appreciate the friends you have, old and new, near and far. So, Dayton, I urge you to love one another and never let go of this love. You just never know.”

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