Brian Kent “BK” Matlick died peacefully at home on September 2, 2019 in Palmyra, Pa. He was 78.
BK is survived by his wife, Mariann (Utt), as well as his children, Brian Kent Matlick II, his wife, Crissy (Stover) Matlick, and their children, Bronwyn and Quinn, and Chad Matlick and his wife, Christina (Berry) Matlick. He is also survived by his brothers, Gareth Owen Matlick and Kirby Dene Matlick, and his sisters, Sharlene Gordon and Ramona Scarton, along with many nieces and nephews.
BK was born on July 14, 1941, in Marquess, W.Va., to William and Harriett (Hamilton) Matlick. In 1959, he graduated from Fellowsville High School, where he played basketball and baseball. In addition to helping to run the family farm, he was active in the 4-H. He attended West Virginia University and graduated with a B.S. in Dairy Science in 1963, and a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics in 1965. He used several jobs in Morgantown to start putting his dairy learning into practice, such as helping to produce ice cream at Chico’s.
He married Mariann Utt on August 25, 1963. After moving to Marietta, Ohio, he began working for Broughton’s Dairy as a field inspector.
In 1965, BK enlisted in the Navy and attained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. He served as a line officer on the U.S.S. Monrovia in the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas from 1965-69.
After leaving the Navy, BK and his family moved to Palmyra, Pa. where he started a 25-year career at Hershey Foods. His early roles were in the dairy, where he was instrumental in the company’s milk purchases.
Over time, he became an expert on cocoa farming and crop management. He worked for many years as director of agribusiness, travelling to cocoa-producing countries across the globe and teaching small cocoa farmers how to manage their crops. He launched an agribusiness consultancy in 1993, and he continued to travel worldwide until 2018.
In 2009,Bon Appetit shined its national spotlight on BK and his work. “We think of him as ‘Indiana Cocoa,’ since he's jumped from prop planes, taken a flight with an alligator, and slept on slabs in the jungle during his travels to the Congo, Indonesia, Colombia, and beyond,” the magazine wrote.
BK used the opportunity to explain more about cocoa-farming development and production. “It takes three to four years to grow a cocoa bean pod that has 30 to 40 beans. You harvest the pod, open it, and ferment it. If I do a good job, the beans get shipped and roasted,” he said, speaking about a trip to the Congo. “On the cargo plane home, while other passengers screamed in the turbulence, I thought, ‘Man, what a guy has to do to make sure chocolate melts in your mouth!’”
BK was active in the Greater Hershey and Palmyra community. In addition to being a member of the Hershey Rotary Club, BK held numerous leadership roles, including president of the Palmyra School Board, president of the Optimists Club, and trustee of Lebanon Valley College. He taught teener baseball in Palmyra. At First United Methodist Church, where he was a member, he taught taught Sunday School and was active in the church’s youth program.
Despite living most of his life in Pennsylvania, BK remained a dedicated WVU athletics fan. He was known for being helpful to his neighbors, friends and family, who could always count on him.
A Celebration of BK’s Life will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 21, at Trinity United Church of Christ, 40 West Pine Street, Palmyra, PA 17078. There will be a memorial service at 1 p.m. during this open house event.
BK’s funeral service will be held at noon on Saturday, September 28, in Marquess, W.Va, at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church.
Memories and condolences may be shared at www.FinkenbinderFamily.com. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Pennsylvania Veterans Foundation at paveterans.org, or to Grace Point Church, Box 269, Palmyra, PA 17078.
Arrangements entrusted to Rothermel-Finkenbinder Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc., Palmyra, PA.
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