Matthew Norton Sherman was born on March 28th, 1966 to Joseph and Ann (Norton) Sherman. He was the youngest of six children. Matt, as he was known to his family and friends, was raised in the small community of Minster Ohio. His childhood was blessed with plenty of neighbor kids to enjoy time with and play. While growing up, he worked in the family-owned drug store that was initially started by his grandfather.
Through his high school days, Matt had grown to become friendly with everyone and ultimately was voted “Most Popular” upon graduation in 1984. Some of his popularity was due to his athleticism, enjoying football and track. He was Co-Captain of these sports his senior year. He also was busy working with the school yearbook staff as one of the photographers. When he wasn’t competing in sports, he was supporting his schoolmates and friends in their endeavors. Matt was always surrounded by people. He was a great friend, someone who loved people and loved life.
Following his graduation from high school, Matt attended Miami University (OH). He became a member of the Greek community by joining Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity and held a leadership position. Matt quickly added to his circle of friends and took on new sports in hockey and cycling. On his graduation day in May 1988, with a business degree in hand, he threw his graduation cap with the peace sign taped to the top, ready to venture off to the next step in his life’s journey.
After a short summer of celebration events and going-away parties, Matt departed for his Peace Corps location in Honduras in June of 1988. For three months he was stationed in Tegucigalpa, where he learned the Spanish language and culture and prepared for his eventual two year assignment. It was a tenuous time in Honduras, nearing the end of the Nicaraguan Civil War, in which the United States set up base in Honduras to assist the right-wing Contra effort against the Sandinista Government of Nicaragua.
In early August, Matt spent a week at his pending assignment in Cuyamel, an area of 2000 people off of the north coast, with no phone service and mail delivery only twice a week. Given the mountainous terrain, Matt was two hours by bus to the nearest larger city and five hours to San Pedro Sula, the industrial capital. As a “Business and Production” Peace Corp Volunteer, Matt would work with the Cocoa Cooperative. His job was to set up cocoa markets and work on exporting. He had his sights on The Hershey Company, Inc.
On September 8th, upon hearing of the death of his grandmother, Matt had been making arrangements to head back to the U.S. for the funeral services. In the evening, on the last day of training in Tegucigalpa, a tragic accident occurred. A Honduran security guard at the El Rincon Peace Corps Training Center unmistakably had taken Matt for an intruder in an area of heavy guerrilla activity. He was shot several times. Matthew Norton Sherman was the 201st Peace Corps Volunteer to die in service.
Matt’s reasons for joining the Peace Corps reflected the way he was raised by his parents and the community of Minster. They were not complicated reasons, just a reflection of Matt. His intent to join a worldwide force of peaceful intervention was not surprising, as putting others before himself was a habit. Matt made the most of the time God had given him, inspiring others to do the same. He believed in his ability to make a difference in the lives of other people.
“I believe that it’s important for neighbors
to help each other, no matter the distance.
If we spent more time trying to help
each other instead of ourselves,
this world might be a better place.”
Matthew Norton Sherman
Peace Corps Volunteer
Matt did, indeed, make this world a better place.