Letter to the Editor: Late Palisades resident was a community pillar

The Palisades has an annual Fourth of July parade. (Brian Kapur/The Current/July 2016)

On Saturday, Sept. 23, at 1:30 p.m., we will gather at the Palisades Community Church for a memorial service for Mat Thorp, a Palisades resident since 1962 and a beloved member of our community. A reception will follow at Salt & Pepper restaurant.

Mathew Burke Thorp died peacefully at home on Aug. 16 with his daughter Lynn at his side. He was 96 years old — a loving father, grandfather, husband, uncle and neighbor, and a World War II veteran with two Purple Hearts. He was a true gentleman, and a dear friend to many of us.

His passing is a great loss for our community as well as the Palisades Citizens Association. Newer residents may not know that Mat chaired the association’s Aircraft Noise Committee for a number of years. He attended myriad meetings on our behalf at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the National Partnership for Air Transportation Noise and Emissions Reductions. “Who is this person Mat Thorp?” a Virginia civic leader once asked. “How did he reroute landings at National Airport over McLean?”

One of the things Mat enjoyed most was the annual Palisades Fourth of July parade and picnic. He organized prizes for the best parade entries, and canvassed local businesses for contributions. And you couldn’t miss Mat on parade day in his straw hat and Bermuda shorts. He was officially named Grand Marshal last year on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Palisades Citizens Association and the 50th anniversary of consecutive Palisades Fourth of July parades.

His passing also brought to light for many of us his military service in World War II when he served as an officer in the 29th Infantry Division in France and Germany, and after the war in Japan with the 82nd Airborne.

For many of us who have been lucky enough to know and work with Mat over the years, we will always remember his abundant kindness, his wonderful smile, and his love for the Palisades. We are grateful for his remarkable contributions to our community.

Our neighborhood is a better place to live thanks to Mat. Please join his family on Saturday to remember a life well lived, and to give thanks for all he has given to us. Donations in Mat’s memory can be made to the Palisades Community Fund of the Palisades Citizens Association, Post Office Box 40603, Washington, D.C. 20016.

Penny Pagano and Spence Spencer, former presidents, Palisades Citizens Association