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Paul Matthew Hirzel, 76, of Washington Township, MI, passed away at 3AM in his sleep on February 21st after a valiant fight against cancer. He is leaving a huge hole in the lives of so many family and friends, including his sons, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, the work family at E&E and his wife, Karen. They absolutely adored each other. Their relationship was one of those extremely special bonds, the love of a lifetime. In the end phase, Karen was unwavering in her dedication to Matt’s care and he was so appreciative. Matt had a strong spirit and was committed to “one more day” if he could make it. In fact, doctors gave him several timelines that he surpassed (and joked that he was an “over achiever”). He never lost his sense of humor through any of the obstacles thrown at him.
Matt has always been so proud of his two sons: Stephen Matthew Hirzel and Brandon Paul Hirzel. And he was a proud Grandpa to Stephen and Sondra’s children, Sophia and Matthew; and Brandon and Ema’s son, Skylar. To Sophia, Matthew and Skylar: Grandpa loved you immensely and wanted so much to see more of your futures. He expressed confidence that you would be successful when you set your mind to do/be something. His words: “It won’t be easy; some days will be darker than others and there will be plenty of reasons to quit or cave in, but don’t. Never give up. It will be worth it. You can do it. I believe in you.”
He was born and raised in the Harper/Chalmers area on the east side of Detroit. His Dad was Paul Hirzel and his Mother was Noreen (Kohn) Hirzel. Since there were two “Pauls” in the house, he was called by his middle name, Matthew, which got shortened to “Matt,” and many close friends called him “Mateo” or “Matteo.”
Matt had/has five sisters and two brothers: Betty (Joe) DePaige, Anne (Fritz) Rector, Pat (Cathy) Hirzel, Paula (Bob) Hindelang, Margaret aka Peggy Hirzel, Dan (Edna) Hirzel, and Kathleen aka Katie (Dana) Green.
Matt served in the Air Force from 1965-1969. It was in Vietnam that he was exposed to Agent Orange, which has been acknowledged to have caused this cancer he got later in life. Matt was selfless, heroic and proud to be an American and to have been of service.
He graduated from St. Juliana Parish Grade School and then later St. Joe’s High School in Detroit in 1964. Matt was working for E&E in shipping and receiving before he went off to war. He came back to his job and worked up to sales (which he was very good at – his knowledge and personality!) and he eventually bought the company, which is now E&E Special Products in Warren. His E&E family has been very close, with many of them working there for nearly and over 40 years.
On a recent birthday for Matt, we gave him a huge bouquet of balloons with messages from his friends and family tied to each one. We asked for words to describe him and these are just a few: GENEROUS. Smart. Gorgeous (& sharp dresser). What a sense of humor. Kind. Absolutely true friend. Brave. Infinitely thoughtful and considerate. Treats you with respect. FUN. Witty. Life of the party. Sincere. Humble. Pure joy to be with.
When you were with Matt, you felt better, stronger, listened to, supported, celebrated. You know how you might not remember exactly what someone said, but you will always remember how they made you feel? If you have been with Matt, you know the feeling you walked away with. The best version of yourself.
Hold onto that feeling. If you are reading this with love in your heart for Matt, know that he cared for you. Remember him fondly and maintain his legacy of generosity and friendship
Visitation to take place Monday, February 27 from 2:00 PM - 8:00 PM, with a special gathering at 6:00pm. Funeral Mass on Tuesday, February 28 at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit at 10:30 AM. Military honors to follow mass.
Note: In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Capuchins, a charity that Matt generously supported.
Detroit | Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph