By Allison Foster
Most students at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College knew Matt Hooper, 18, as the Sodexo guy that swiped their ID cards at dinner or that one guy in Urinetown the Musical that was put on by SMWC last spring. “If that is all you know of Matt Hooper then you are missing out on the story of an incredible young man who I am proud to have called my friend,” said sophomore Grace Dubrowski, member of the Theater and Drama department at SMWC. On Sunday, Sept. 26 a car driven by Mitchell Weir with Hooper, Doug Lenges, and James Darby as passengers failed to yield the right-of-way when turning onto Indiana 63 from westbound Bolton Road in West Terre Haute. A semi collided with the passenger side of the car, ejecting Weir and Hooper. Both Hooper and Darby were pronounced dead at the scene. Lenges was airlifted to Carle Hospital in Champaign, Ill., and Weir was taken to Union Hospital and then proceeded to be airlifted to an Indianapolis Hospital. Matthew Lee Hooper was born Apr. 8, 1992, in Terre Haute. His parents are Jay and Joni Thomas Hooper. He graduated from West Vigo High School in 2010 and was active in many different clubs. He was a freshman at Indiana State University this fall. Hooper was a member of West Vigo’s swim team, the school band, and soccer team. He played the bass guitar and trombone. Hooper was well known for being involved in musicals and plays and was a member of the Performing Arts Workshop.
The Performing Arts Workshop (PAW) that began in 1990 gives actors, musicians, and artists a one of a kind opportunity in the summer to work theatrical repertory. PAW has performed plays such as Annie and Beauty and the Beast, where Hooper received the role as the beast his senior year in high school. Hooper was known for having lead roles in the PAW.
The most recent role Hooper played was last spring at SMWC’s production of Urinetown the Musical, where he played Senator Fipp, the greedy and somewhat cowardly politician.
“When we worked together he was just so professional that it was hard to remember at times that he was still in high school,” said senior Danielle O’Conner, who played Little Sally. “Looking at him as an actor he took direction very well, especially for his age. We [the Music and Theater Department] all felt the loss.”
Hooper was a freshman at Indiana State University. He is survived by his parents and two sisters, Samantha and Julie Hooper.
“He was always smiling, and that simple gesture could make the worst day seem a little better,” Dubrowski said.
The wake was held on Wednesday, and the funeral procession was on Thursday. Hooper was laid to rest at Bethesda Memorial Park.