Obituary: Matthew Christopher Caulo, 1991-2021 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Matthew Christopher Caulo, 1991-2021

Industrious young man had a vision for a self-sufficient rural lifestyle

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Matthew Caulo - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Matthew Caulo

Matthew Christopher Caulo died tragically on August 8, 2021, on his property in South Royalton, Vt. He was 29.

Matthew was born on December 29, 1991, in Burlington, Vt., to John and Debra Caulo, the youngest of three boys. In 1999, the family moved to Norwich, Vt., where Matthew graduated from Hanover High School in 2010. He attended Concordia University in Montréal before graduating from Champlain College in 2016. Although Matthew was born in Burlington and spent his childhood in Norwich, he called South Royalton his home.

Matthew had long admired the lifestyle and work ethic of rural Vermonters. He trusted his instinct and, sight unseen, purchased an overlooked property in South Royalton in early 2020 while living in New Orleans. In short order, he moved back to Vermont to live an independent, self-sufficient lifestyle. At the time of his death, Matthew was in the process of clearing the five-acre woodlot along the Broad Brook to execute his vision: to construct a tiny home using felled lumber from the land. However, a persistent 10-year battle with depression ultimately prevented the dream’s realization.

The South Royalton community embraced Matthew, in whom they recognized a friendly and industrious young man with a positive vision for stewardship of the land. Several neighbors and shopkeepers have individually told the family stories of Matthew’s good nature and ever willingness to provide them help of any kind.

Matthew was also a man of seemingly unlimited interests and ideas. He would joke that he had a PhD from YouTube University and learned a variety of electrical, mechanical, musical, woodworking and carpentry skills that he applied with precision and poise. A talented and creative cook, Matthew also composed and played music; built musical instruments, wrote poetry, and brewed both beer and hard cider.

A voracious reader, Matthew could engage in deep conversations on philosophy, politics, music, truth and beauty, often with a former professor and friend who described Matthew as having a “beautiful mind.”

Behind the positive and assertive exterior, however, was a darker personality periodically clouded by self-loathing and remorse. In many ways, Matthew embodied the purest definition of “righteous”: He held himself, and others, to a moral code of conduct that was difficult to achieve, let alone maintain. With the help and unending love of his brothers, Matthew was recently making progress with the concepts of redemption and forgiveness, not only for others but for himself. Sadly, it was not enough.

In addition to his parents, Matthew is survived by his loving brothers, Michael of Durham, N.C., and Jeffrey of New Orleans, La.; maternal grandparents, Lillie and Martin Tanis of Roanoke, Va.; and many relatives and friends. A celebration of Matthew’s life is being planned for Saturday, September 11, on the Town Green in South Royalton. Details to follow.

Please consider a donation through the Matthew Caulo Memorial Fund on GoFundMe. Your contribution will be added to a donor-advised fund established by the family honoring Matthew’s love of land, sustainable living and music. The Caulo family will also support efforts around suicide prevention and the mental health of adults and children.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in emotional crisis. If you need help, please dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255), and you will be routed to one of its 133 crisis centers nationwide. Call for yourself or someone you care about. Your call is free and confidential.

A close family friend captured Matthew this way: “I will always think of Matt as the gifted artist, artisan, seeker, questioner and now voyager, finally at peace.”

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