Matthew Kihlstrand

Matthew Ryan Kihlstrand

Sunday, August 11th, 1974 - Friday, June 19th, 2020
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Matthew Ryan Kihlstrand, 45, of St. Joseph, MI, tragically lost his life while heroically saving another, on Friday, June 19, 2020 in the St. Joseph River.

A memorial gathering will take place from 4-7pm, with a celebration of life beginning at 7pm, on Thursday, June 25, 2020 at Starks & Menchinger Chapel, 2650 Niles Rd., St. Joseph. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be given to the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan,

Matt was born August 11, 1974 in Flint, MI to Vonnie (Gaines) O’Sullivan and David Kihlstrand. Matt grew up in Swartz Creek, MI, where he graduated from high school and went to Western Michigan University. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice before attending the Police Academy in Kalamazoo. Although police work was not his calling, he served Berrien County in Child Protective Services. Afterwards, he spent the majority of his career in the hospitality industry in Southwest Michigan. He currently worked in sales in the construction industry. Matt spent most of his free time at Grand Mere Dunes with his beloved dog, Murphy. He was known for his generosity and he gave whatever he could to whoever was in need. He was a great friend, a kind spirit, and had an unmatched appreciation for people. Though his time was shorter than we hoped, we celebrate his spirit and selfless heroic actions that saved the life of a child.

The family wishes to express sincere gratitude to the Berrien County Sherriff’s Department and Marine Division, the Royalton Township Fire Department, the Berrien Springs Oronoko Township Fire Department, the State of Michigan Department of Resources, the Great Lakes Drone Company, the State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and the Great Lakes Search and Rescue Company.

He will be dearly missed by his parents, Vonnie O’Sullivan and David (Judy) Kihlstrand,; his siblings, Melanie (Darrin) Yappen, and Marc Kihlstrand; his nieces and nephews, Dane (Micaela) Ferré, Ethan Yappen, Madison Kihlstrand, Gavin Kihlstrand, Catherine Yappen, and Ava Kihlstrand; two very special children in his life, Alana and Adin; and many friends and extended family.

He is preceded in death by his beloved dog, Murphy.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Thursday, June 25th, 2020 | 4:00pm - 7:00pm
    Thursday, June 25th, 2020 4:00pm - 7:00pm
    Starks & Menchinger Chapel
    2650 Niles Rd.
    St. Joseph, MI 49085
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    Thursday, June 25th, 2020 | 7:00pm
    Thursday, June 25th, 2020 7:00pm
    Starks & Menchinger Chapel
    2650 Niles Rd.
    St. Joseph, MI 49085
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Private Condolence
Plant a Tree in Memory of Matthew
2 trees have been planted in memory of Matthew Ryan Kihlstrand

Fred and Shirley Engbloom and family

Posted at 10:26am
"Matthew Kihlstrand" will remain in our hearts forever.
Tree Image
A memorial tree was planted in the memory of Matthew Kihlstrand — Plant a Tree Now

Andrew Feord

Posted at 11:30am
Matt and I often talked about what defined a true friend. Matt was the truest of friends; and his final act was as true to his character as is possible.
I love and miss you brother! I will be forever grateful for your trust, generosity and friendship...


Posted at 07:26pm
rest in peace your work is done here on earth


Posted at 07:09pm
Matt, you probably never knew it, but you saved my life as well. Thank you.

John Engbloom

Posted at 06:50pm
I want pass on my condolences to the entire Kihlstrand family. Growing up next door to them left me with found childhood memories of Matt. My hearts breaks for all of you. I remember the day I met him as a baby. After growing up, we lost touch. But, recently I was able to reconnect with him on social media. I had hoped to see him again one day around the neighborhood. I now hope to see him on the other side. Anyone whom saves a child’s life only to sacrifice their own like is hero of another we must always remember and thank.

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