Abigail Young, Matthew Young

Matt, 16, remembered as `a real standout'

11-year-old Abby `made you feel happy.'

December 12, 2007|By Jacques Kelly and Frederick N. Rasmussen | Jacques Kelly and Frederick N. Rasmussen,Sun reporters

His teachers recalled Matthew Sam Young for his wry sense of humor, his ability to master the cello and cross-country running, but most of all for his intelligence and ability to write. Mary Abigail Young was known for making her own way as the youngest of four children, full of confidence and with a knack for making those around her happy.

Services for the brother and sister, whose lives were claimed by a fire at their Roland Park home, will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Second Presbyterian Church, 4200 St. Paul St.

Matthew, who was 16, died Saturday at Sinai Hospital. Mary Abigail, who was 11, died Thursday, the day of the fire, at the same hospital. Their father, Stephen A. Young, a deputy copy desk chief at The Sun, was seriously injured as he attempted to rescue his children. He remained hospitalized in fair condition yesterday.

Matthew and Mary Abigail - known to all as Abby - were born in Baltimore and lived on Abell Avenue in Charles Village and in Guilford before moving to Ridgewood Road in Roland Park.

Matthew excelled academically, first at the Calvert School, where he graduated in 2006, and then at the Park School, where he was in the 10th grade.

"Matt was a real standout in everything he did - academics, athletics and drama. He was a nice kid, not in any way arrogant, and very humble," said Andy Martire, Calvert School headmaster. "When he won an eighth-grade writing contest, he gave a presentation to the board of trustees and donated the winnings to a fund at Calvert for a boy who had died in 2003."

Mike Shawen, who has been on the Calvert faculty for 27 years, taught Matthew history in sixth and eighth grade. "He was an exemplary student and one of the top two that I've ever taught," Mr. Shawen said. "He had an incredible maturity."

Matthew had studied the cello for 10 years and most recently was performing with the Greater Baltimore Youth Concert Strings.

"He had a real sense of musicality to him," said Andrew Shaud, his cello teacher. "One day, we were doing a jazzy piece, and he was one of the few who really understood it."

At a concert Sunday at the McManus Theatre at Calvert Hall College High School, about 150 students wore white ribbons in Matthew's memory. A bouquet of white roses was left on the chair where he would have played.

John Kessinger, a Park School history teacher who was Matthew's adviser, remembered Matthew for more than the straight A's. "He was nurturing of his classmates and worked well with the other kids. He was always understated and quiet, but because of his varying interests, he plugged into all the different groups at the school."

Since 2004, Matthew had attended Echo Hill Camp in Worton, and last summer had been selected to be a counselor-in-training. "His leadership skills were very mature and responsible, and he would have been a great counselor," said Peter P. Rice Jr., camp director.

Matthew also played lacrosse and, at the urging of his classmates, joined the school's cross-country team this fall. His coaches soon began discussing him as a "keeper in terms of attitude and approach" - recalling how he had ended a rain-soaked practice by diving into a puddle of mud and how his teammates followed.

"It was just a goofy, joy-filled celebration of being alive," said his cross-country coach, Paul Hulleberg.

For Abby, setting her own path at Calvert School was important.

"She was one of those students who'd come up to you, cock her head, give you a smile, and say `Hi' - and it was most genuine. That sort of ability to disarm with her personality is something I'll always remember," said David W. Skeen Jr., middle school dean of students. "She always struck me as ... very much her own person."

This afternoon, when Calvert's girls basketball team meets Notre Dame Preparatory School, an empty chair courtside will be draped with Abby's uniform. The team will start four players.

"Abby was a very talented guard. She was fun and easy to coach, and was open and always willing to improve," said Roman A. Doss, the team's coach, who also teaches math and science.

Nicole H. Webster, who had been Abby's academic adviser at Calvert, would often slip her a piece of candy when she visited her office. "Abby loved candy, and I've been known to break a few rules," Ms. Webster said. "Her smile was more of a smirk. She knew something you didn't know, and the joke was on you."

Michelle Woods, who was Abby's second-grade teacher, recalled her as someone who "made you feel happy" to be around. "She was disorganized, but she didn't care. She had that charming smile, and when you asked her where her spelling homework was, she'd shrug her shoulders, and then we'd go through her desk and find it," Mrs. Woods said.

An uncle, Hank Young of Baltimore, said, "Abby was the hippest 11-year-old I ever knew. She could carry on conversations with older people or kids her age. It was pretty amazing."

He added that Matt and Abby were "very close and got along pretty well. They loved engaging in good-natured sniping." Last April, he said, they were baptized at Second Presbyterian.

In addition to their father and mother, Nancy Young, Matt and Abby are survived by two sisters, Laura Young of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Carrie Young of Roland Park; their paternal grandparents, retired federal Judge Joseph H. Young and Doris O. Young of Roland Park; and their maternal grandmother, Meilai Wong of San Francisco.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Nick Madigan contributed to this article.

Young Family Fund

A fund to aid the Young family has been established by The Sun through M&T Bank. Contributions can be mailed to: Young Family Fund, c/o The Sun, Attn: Cashier's Office, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278-0001.

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