Cover photo for Matthew G. Popkes's Obituary
Matthew G. Popkes Profile Photo
1977 Matthew 2024

Matthew G. Popkes

June 7, 1977 — March 3, 2024

SHELDON, IA: Relatives and friends are invited to call on family Saturday April 27 from 9:30 AM until Memorial Service follows at 10:30 AM at Vander Ploeg Funeral Home (724 6th Ave) in his hometown of Sheldon, IA. 

To view Matt's service via livestream, please register at:

Following the Memorial service, relatives and friends are invited to join the family at the “Friendship House” located at First Reformed Church (1101 7th Street).

Matthew G. Popkes Obituary

Matthew G. Popkes, known to many as Matt, died at age 46 on March 3, 2024 surrounded by his family leaving behind a legacy of kindness, imagination, and intelligence.

Born on June 7, 1977 in Rock Rapids, IA, and raised in Sheldon, IA, he moved to Wheaton, IL to attend college and subsequently made Wheaton his home. Matt's defining trait was his insatiable thirst for knowledge. Less obvious but central to the life he built were the deeply profound friendships and vast array of communities to which he belonged.

Matt worked in the Wheaton College Safety department for 25 years, a staple on the night shift, a steadfast guardian of the night. Yet, beneath his unassuming guise lay the soul of a dreamer, a seeker of tales and realms beyond the reach of mortal coil. An avid reader, he was never found without carrying a 30 lb bag of books — a mobile library — full of wide ranging literature; theology to history to sci-fi fantasy. Matt's voracious appetite for storytelling knew no bounds. Among his cherished authors, none held sway quite like Brandon Sanderson. A wordsmith in his own right, Matt was a prolific writer and integral part of a number of global online communities, primarily found on Discord, dedicated to the craft of storytelling. He leaves an indelible mark upon the hearts of fellow wordsmiths, Trekkies, Dungeon Masters, and RPG groups, his wisdom and encouragement serving as a beacon in difficult times.

Matt was a man of extensive talents and diverse interests. Matt was a gifted and versatile musician, having played the clarinet, bass clarinet, and sax in concert choirs, marching band, jazz band, and pit orchestras. Matt dearly loved his church (St. Michaels Catholic Church) and played with the bell choirs of both St. Michaels Catholic Church and St. John's Lutheran church (both in Wheaton). Never one to brag (and being quite private), most saw only glimpses of the expansive life he led. Matt gave blood as often as he could and fulfilled his final wish to become an organ donor. He loved a good debate, theatre, swing dancing, Legos, good food, and hearty laughter. Matt had a passion for games of all kinds, including tabletop and video games, and he was a greatly valued and respected Dungeon Master in Role Playing Game (RPG) guilds.

Amidst his many pursuits, Matt treasured being uncle to Eli and Miles above all else. Matt's departure leaves a void in the hearts of all who knew him, yet his spirit lives on in the memories forged and the lives he touched. As we gather to bid farewell to one gone too soon, let us remember the light that Matt brought into this world, a glimmer of kindness and wisdom in a world too often shrouded in darkness.

He is survived by his parents, Dennis and Linda Popkes of Sheldon, IA; brother Aaron Popkes of Burnsville, MN; sister Bethany Popkes of Wynantskill, NY; brother Caleb Popkes of Wheaton, IL; nephews Eli Popkes and Miles Popkes; and a large extended family primarily located in Northwest Iowa. He is preceded in death by grandparents LaVerne and Lorraine Sikkema and Lammert and Jeanette Popkes; aunt Nelvina Popkes and Teresa Popkes.

The family expresses heartfelt appreciation for the loving care and concern his friends and relatives have shared during these past two years.

In lieu of flowers, please honor Matt's memory by extending a hand of support to his family in their time of need, assisting in covering the costs that have accrued over Matt’s lengthy medical journey. Donations may be sent to: Aaron Popkes 12241 Nicollet Ave. Burnsville, MN 55337 or donate in his name to charity. And as we carry forth the deep love he has left behind, may we find solace in the knowledge that though his earthly sojourn has ended, his memory shall endure in the hearts of those who loved him. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

WHEATON, IL: Relatives and friends are invited to call on family Saturday, April 20 at 10 AM at St. Michael Catholic Church (310 S. Wheaton Ave., Wheaton, IL). Funeral Mass to follow at 11 AM (a live stream can be found at
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Matthew G. Popkes, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, April 27, 2024

9:30 - 10:15 am (Central time)

Vander Ploeg Funeral Home - Sheldon

724 Sixth Avenue, Sheldon, IA 51201

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Memorial Service

Saturday, April 27, 2024

10:30 - 11:15 am (Central time)

Vander Ploeg Funeral Home - Sheldon

724 Sixth Avenue, Sheldon, IA 51201


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