• 50°

Community offers support for, memories of Knox teacher Beaver

SALISBURY — Matt Beaver was an enduringly positive man.

Beaver’s longtime friend and colleague Justin Pauley said Beaver was punctual, never missed work and he was always enthusiastic. He always has a positive demeanor and wore an infectious grin.

“He was in a great mood all the time,” Pauley said.

Beaver was a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan, too, Pauley said. So, that meant “Fly Eagles Fly” was a staple of his vocabulary. He was a Christian and he loved his family.

“He loved his wife and his two kids,” Pauley said. “He would talk about them all the time, brag about them.”

On Tuesday, Beaver, 40, died after contracting COVID-19. People close to him were shocked.

“We just thought it was your typical cold and he would be fine,” Pauley said. “This never entered our minds.”

Pauley said he was devastated when he was told Beaver had passed on Tuesday. He described Beaver as a friend and brother to the close-knit community at Knox Middle School.

Matt Beaver

Beaver was born in Christiansburg, Virginia, moved to Rowan County and graduated from East Rowan High School in 1999. He attended Piedmont Bible College and High Point University, graduating with degrees in health and physical education. In 2015, he married his wife, Ruth, with whom he had two children, Jackson and Ella. He was a member of Charity Baptist Church in Kannapolis.

While Rowan-Salisbury Schools administration declined to comment on the specifics of Beaver’s death, it issued a statement Wednesday, a remote learning day for the district, and closed Knox on Thursday in honor of Beaver.

“It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of one of our educators, Mr. Matthew Beaver,” the statement reads. “Rowan-Salisbury Schools extends its sincerest condolences to the Beaver family and Knox Middle School staff and students. Mr. Beaver will truly be missed by his school family. Counselors will be available throughout the week and next week for students and staff who need support during this difficult time.”

Assistant Superintendent of Transformation Andrew Smith said the district can not disclose information on Beaver’s cause of death or medical condition, but co-workers who spoke to the Post, a GoFundMe campaign organized by Knox faculty as well as media reports describe his cause of death as COVID-19.

A letter was sent to Knox Middle School families Tuesday, the same day Beaver died, that informed them a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19. The letter, a standard format used by the district to inform families about COVID-19 cases, was the only of its kind sent to Knox families since the district began classes on Jan. 5. The district has sent dozens of similar letters this school year.

Pauley, also a physical education teacher at Knox, met Beaver through their jobs at the middle school. Pauley was hired at the school a year before Beaver. Prior to moving to Knox, Beaver worked in an interim position at Southeast Middle in 2006. He also coached basketball and tennis at Knox.

Over the years, Pauley and Beaver became great friends along with fellow physical education teacher Jamie Phillips. Their friendship began by hanging out at school and progresses to taking trips together and playing in basketball tournaments. On Thursday, Pauley said he was feeling terrible and that Beaver’s death had devastated the school community at Knox — a community that sticks together.

The GoFundMe campaign, organized by Knox faculty including the district Teacher of the Year Sally Schultz, has raised more than $37,000 for the Beaver family since it was created on Wednesday, easily clearing its initial $20,000 goal. The campaign has received more than 400 donations and been shared more than 4,000 times. The campaign names Beaver’s wife, Ruth, as the beneficiary, and his obituary states that memorials can be made to the family through the GoFundMe campaign or to a charity of the person’s choice. The link for the campaign is gofundme.com/f/support-the-family-of-husband-teacher-m-beaver

Pauley said he has been spending time with his own family and communicating with folks at Knox.

“I haven’t had a chance to even be back to the gym, but I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like the first time walking in,” Pauley said.

A service open to friends and relatives will be held at Charity Baptist in Kannapolis at 4 p.m. on Monday. The service will be socially distanced and mask wearing is strongly encouraged. The service will be live streamed via the church website at charity.church/watch.

Services for Beaver are under the direction of Powles Staton Funeral Home

Comments

Crime

In letter, PETA criticizes Salisbury Police for K-9 video

Coronavirus

Three deaths, 29 new COVID-19 positives reported

Crime

Blotter: Bullet holes found in woman’s Park Avenue apartment

Crime

Man faces assault charges for domestic incident

High School

Photo gallery: Carson girls win West Regional, headed to state championship

High School

High school basketball: Carson girls headed to state championship game

Local

Commissioners set date for public hearing on potential solar energy system rule changes

Health

Two of Rep. Sasser’s bills successfully pass through Health Committee

Local

Rep. Warren’s measure to allow removal of public notices from newspapers put on back burner

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs future of previously rejected housing development

Local

Salisbury City Council hears public comments, receives presentation on Main Street reconfiguration

Crime

Blotter: Man charged with felony drug offenses

Nation/World

California crash kills 13 of 25 people crammed into SUV

Nation/World

Biden vows enough vaccines by end of May

Coronavirus

State to vaccinate medically vulnerable starting March 24

Coronavirus

One new death, 20 new COVID-19 positives reported in Rowan

Kannapolis

Kannapolis man dies in moped crash

Crime

Salisbury Police chief addresses K-9 video, says officer separated from animal

Local

Rowan Rescue Squad sets record straight on fundraising typo

Local

City approves DOT agreement, Salisbury Station project could begin next year

Local

County plans to use vulture effigy, enforce violations to remedy animal carcass feeding problem

Education

Two weeks after ending enhanced protocols, Catawba has no COVID-19 cases

News

Council to hear revised version of Downtown Main Street Plan

Local

Veto override of NC school reopening bill fails in Senate