Matt McCue, the first Veteran to join Farmer Veteran Coalition, was remembered as someone who cared deeply for FVC members during a memorial service Dec.16 in his native New Mexico.
McCue died Nov. 16 at his home near Velarde, New Mexico. He was 41.
McCue served on staff and on the Board of Directors for Farmer Veteran Coalition. He will be greatly missed, said FVC Founder Michael O’Gorman and FVC Executive Director Jeanette Lombardo.
“I first heard from Matt McCue in the spring of 2007,” O’Gorman wrote in sharing his memories about McCue. “He was working for the Peace Corps in Niger on the west coast of Africa, planting sorghum by hand, when he wrote me a lyrical letter, more like a poem, juxtaposing the peace he found in planting to the experiences he had serving in Iraq a few years earlier.
“I had the idea for some time to connect returning Veterans with opportunities in farming but had not yet met any Veteran that wanted help with the transition until Matt.
“The next spring, I helped Matt get his first farming job, growing vegetables for a high-end restaurant in Sebastopol, California. I decided to leave my job running Mexico’s largest organic vegetable company to help Matt and look for others that may also be interested, launching the Farmer Veteran Coalition. Matt became Farmer Veteran Coalition member ‘zero zero one.’”
McCue was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and graduated high school there. He joined the Army in 2001 and served in the infantry during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was promoted to sergeant while in Iraq and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with Valor.
After the Army, he enrolled at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he received a certificate in ecological horticulture. He later earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the latter in international agricultural development, and served in the Army Reserve in California.
McCue built and ran a successful vegetable CSA in northern California, O’Gorman wrote, which showed other Veterans that farming was a viable path, even for first-generation farmers.
“Everyone that met Matt saw his hilarious sense of humor, the mischievous twinkle in his eye, and his incomparable work ethic,” O’Gorman wrote. “Those of us that knew him well knew he also struggled sometimes to make sense of his life and this world around us.”
McCue was a member of the nominating committee that hired Lombardo to lead FVC in 2020.
“During those first transitional months Matt would call me and check in to see how things were going,” Lombardo said. “His vibrant personality was appreciated as we worked through the COVID office reopening, evacuated from our office due to nearby dry lightning strikes, and the relocation of FVC headquarters out of state.
“He cared tremendously for our members, and the mission of FVC, and will be missed by many.”
O’Gorman agreed that the loss of McCue will be acutely felt, “but this organization he inspired us to start now has 46,000 members, and the Veteran-to-farming movement that was once just an idea has been embraced by every sector — public and private — of our agricultural community.
“We will miss him, but a little bit of Matt will live on in all of us he touched.”
McCue’s obituary is at www.santafefuneralsnm.com/obituaries/matthew-mccue .