By Coastal Breeze News Staff
If you have spent any time at Mackle Park or the Farmer’s Market, chances are you have met Mindy Matusiak, Recreation Manager for the City of Marco Island. Islanders and snowbirders alike are familiar with Mindy. She’s vivacious and energetic with a contagious smile. That smile got a bit bigger since Matt Gordon, a Marine serving in Afghanistan, returned home safely and asked her to marry him!
Little did these two young people know when they took on summer jobs as Sport’s Camp Counselors in 2004, a life changing relationship would form. After all, they were just kids, working through the summer break. They spent the summer supervising children, coaching, playing, teaching and entertaining them. When summer ended, the two went their separate ways.
Mindy left a good impression at Mackle Park and was offered a full-time position after she graduated from the University of Florida, Gainesville. Matt graduated from the University of Tampa. They reconnected through the social media Facebook and kept up their friendship. Matt came to Marco and asked Mindy out which started the whole romance.
In 2005, Matt entered the Marine Officer training program. They paid for his college education in exchange for a commitment to serve when he graduated. In 2007, Matt went into active duty. Of course, Matt and Mindy continued their relationship. Even the miles between them didn’t hamper their affection for each other. In the summer of 2010, Matt was deployed to Afghanistan.
While overseas, they kept in touch through Skype, an internet video chat service. Internet service was sketchy at best. Getting the schedule synced was also difficult. Mindy recalled receiving a phone call or two in the middle of the night. “Besides Mindy, the first thing I missed was a good bed and decent food,” said Matt. “Don’t get me wrong, it is considered good food there. It was very hot and I lost a lot of weight while there.” Matt’s role in the Marines was as a Fire Support Coordinator. His job was to deconflict ground and air space in support of combat operations. How did Matt feel about their relationship while in Afghanistan? “You know very quickly you don’t want to be away anymore!”
How did Mindy fare during Matt’s time away? “It was very difficult, but I kept myself busy with the logistics of moving him off base for his 9 month deployment. The entire flight home I was in tears and for two or three weeks following, I just kept crying. You learn to keep your head down and keep busy. I was used to communicating with him regularly, but once in Afghanistan, Skype was unreliable. Friends kept me busy. My schedule with summer camp at Mackle Park also kept me busy. You watch for the milestones like Easter, Fourth of July and summer camp to pass.” Matt’s parents kept in touch with Mindy and even came into the park to drop off lunch for her. “There was nothing better than booking the flight to see him when he arrived back to the U.S.!”
The Gordons are originally from Wisconsin where Matt and his older brother Joseph attended St. John Northwestern Military Academy. When their parents moved, the boys could either move with them or go to boarding school. They chose the latter. The brothers served together in Afghanistan. “He may be my older brother, but I outranked him!” Joseph was the Fire Support Chief. “He’ll return in December.” The Marine medallion at the Veterans Memorial was purchased by the brothers’ parents, Larry and Pete (Pierrette) Gordon, in their honor.
Mindy was born and raised in Naples. She attended Naples High School and has her degree in Commercial Recreation. “My grandfather was a real life Florida Cracker,” Mindy proclaims. “and my mother is from Vientiane, Laos. With her strong sense of family, she is already asking for grandchildren!” Mindy and Matt laugh over how stressed they got over their parents meeting each other over lunch. “They get along great, but let’s get over the stress of Christmas before we plan anything else!”
Matt is enrolled in the Police Academy which will begin in January. The couple is planning their wedding for April, 2013. Mindy says “we are currently in the process of building a home in Naples”. Congratulations Matt and Mindy!