No one word can sum up the life of Matt Bonney but if there was it would be selfless.
Born in Baraboo, Wisconsin, Matt Bonney grew up with older sister Angela and two younger brothers, Ben and Phil. Much like any boy growing up, Matt sought identity and acceptance from his peers while simultaneously developing an individuality at home. In speaking with his brother Ben, it became evident that early-on Matt was a selfless boy, which would serve him later in life. This would be no more evident, than when he (along with his sister and younger brother Phil) sought to help their ailing father in California. By the time Matt and his siblings moved to California, Matt was already a step-father to three daughters and spouse to his (then) girlfriend Lynn. Leaving his relationship in Wisconsin, relocating to California, would also serve to provide Bonney with something he never had growing up, direction and purpose.
While in California, Matt and his siblings provided support for their ailing father. As his father's health continued to deteriorate, Matt was already fast becoming an experienced brewer having migrated to the position of Assistant Brewer. But life had other plans for the trio and so, when weighing his accomplishments against his future, Matt chose to be with his love in Seattle while providing his youngest brother Phil an opportunity to join him or remain with his older sister Angela. Phil, homesick and not quite ready to be away from the comfort of his larger family, returned to Wisconsin to be with mother Barbara, older brother Ben, and immediate family. He would later join his brother, Matt, at the age of 25 in 2009.
By the late 90's Matt's experience in brewing would assist him in Seattle, while also inspiring the formation of a strong friendship with a young man from Oakland (California) named Matthew. Here Matt's natural talent for seeing potential in others would compliment Matthew Vandenberghe's desire to open a world-class, specialty beer store, a Belgian-inspired restaurant, and a cocktail-focused restaurant. For the duo of Matt and Matthew, a bond developed both professionally and personally. Bonney also never forgot the importance of selflessness and family which is why he made it a point of acquiring work for daughter Amanda and his youngest brother Phil while supporting strangers who needed work.
During this same period, Matt and Lynn's lives grew and expanded with the birth of many grandchildren and their own marriage before welcoming daughter Amanda's new husband Neil. With each year that passed, Matt's foundation as a supportive husband, father, grandfather, and brother became unbreakable.
At the same time, Matt continued to support those who needed financial or emotional support. One such example was when, as an early employee at Bottleworks and without question, Matt gave over $200 to a close friend who had experienced an emotional low. This connection would only enhance their friendship leading to frequent pub crawls and backyard barbecues. In capturing personal reflection, I learned that Mike Clark (former employee of Firestone Walker Brewing Company) called Matt first thing when he arrived in Seattle. For Mike and like countless others both before and after, his relationship with Matt would travel between the professional and personal. But these stories are but a droplet water in an ocean of lives that Bonney touched.
This selflessness continued when he, along with his wife Lynn and a handful of investors, opened The Toronado, in Seattle. As he had practiced while working with Matthew Vandenberghe, Bonney continued to develop strong relationships with those who entered his bar whether they were sales people or strangers. As the antithesis of the Toronado namesake, Matt Bonney's bar was welcoming with both he and his staff often greeting guests. His kindness could be seen reflected in the numerous men and women who frequented the Toronado, often sharing conversations between the staff or Matt. Plus it was not uncommon to see Matt smile a big smile or laugh a good laugh, whenever he shared a story or experience with his regulars.
Regrettably, I am saddened by reminding all of March 23rd, 2019, when Matthew Bonney passed away in his sleep with his wife Lynn at his side. He leaves behind his partner (and wife) Lynn of 25 years, daughter Amanda, daughter Christina, daughter Andrea, mother Barbara, sister Angela, younger brothers Ben and Phillip, several grandchildren, and countless close and loyal friends. Born in Baraboo, Wisconsin on January 5, 1974 - he was 45 years young.
Today, as you go about your day, I ask that you reflect not on the man behind the bar. Instead, I ask that you take a moment to reflect on the man many called friend, brother to few, husband, grandfather, and son. Today I ask you to raise a toast to the man, we all knew as Matt.
As for me, he will always be Bonney, one of my close friends whom I miss. He and his family will never be far from my thoughts.