If you knew Matt Durham at all – even a bit – he seemed like the last guy who could be felled by a terminal illness. Strong, active, positive outlook …
But cancer plays no favorites.
The West Seattle photojournalist (whose work in the past few years included WSB contributions), whose main job was as a Woodinville firefighter, is dead of melanoma, at just 45 years old.
Matt died yesterday. While his wife Elaine Durham announced it on their Facebook pages last night, they are not public, and we wanted to wait until she gave her approval, which she did late today, to share the news. She and their sons, 9 and 11, had just spent Christmas Eve/Day with Matt at Swedish Medical Center. If you were among their Facebook friends, you have probably followed along with their brave story for the past few months, since Matt himself announced the diagnosis on his page in September.
As it was a private matter, we hadn’t written about it before, but earlier this week, with Elaine’s permission, we had a story in the works regarding a benefit planned by Matt’s fellow firefighters in the Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District (which gave us permission to use their photo of Matt) on January 13th, after this Woodinville Weekly article appeared, and after a flyer about it started circulating in West Seattle.
We never got to publish that story before Matt lost his fight against the metastatized melanoma discovered less than four months ago. He will be missed by many throughout West Seattle, Woodinville, and beyond. You can see some of his photos on his photography site at mattdurhamphotography.com. Once we have word on memorial-service plans, we will publish an update.
ADDED EARLY SATURDAY: The Woodinville department says it is classifying Matt’s death as line-of-duty; that drew regional media attention, including this KING 5 report late Friday night.