Matt Henkel


BYRON — Matt Henkel, 42, of Byron, formerly of Sublette and Amboy died on May 19, 2021, with his family by his side. Matt fought a courageous 13-year battle with brain cancer and spent his last few months participating in a clinical trial in hope of advancing the cause of conquering GBM. Matt fought this battle with an unbelievable amount of love and support from family, friends, co-workers, and the community.

Matt was born in Mendota, on Feb. 18, 1979 to Paul and Susan Henkel. He was raised in Sublette and spent the majority of his life raising his family in Amboy, before moving to Byron. He graduated from Amboy High School in 1997 and from Illinois State University in 2001. In 2002, he married Cammie Cook, his high school sweetheart and wife of nearly 20 years.

Matt’s love of golf led him to a career in course management. He started as an intern at the Byron Forest Preserve and was promoted to assistant superintendent, before realizing his dream of becoming superintendent of PrairieView Golf Course in 2010. In 2018, Matt assumed the role of general manager/superintendent before cancer tragically cut his career short. Matt embraced technology in the golf industry and was instrumental in bringing PrairieFire to life. When he could no longer work, it brought him great joy and pride to view the daily usage reports and know that so many people were spending quality time together and enjoying his dream.

Matt was a beloved father, son, uncle, brother, boss and friend to many and will be remembered for his smile, kindhearted nature, and willingness to help out anyone. Matt was truly humbled by the many acts of kindness and love showered upon him and his family and wanted everyone to know how much he appreciated all that has been done to support his fight over the years. Special thanks to the caregivers at Serenity Hospice for their flexibility, understanding, and compassion. Thank you also to Bridgette Oester and Jones Funeral home, who were instrumental in coordinating the donation of Matt’s brain to the NIH Brain Bank at UCLA.

Matt is survived by his wife, Cammie, son Ashton, and daughters Claire and Mara, his parents Paul and Sue Henkel of Sublette; sisters, Rachel (Andrew) Tarr, of Amboy and Sarah (Ken) Gehant, of Compton; grandmothers, Patricia Syskowski, of Mendota and Betty Henkel, of Sublette; many aunts, uncles, and cousins; his in-laws, Les and Deb Cook, of Amboy, Jenny and Scott Full, of Amboy, and Breann and Brian Welker, of Dixon; and nine nieces and nephews whom he loved dearly.

He was preceded in death by his younger sister, Catharine Henkel, grandfathers, Stan Syskowski and Cletus Henkel, and uncle, David Henkel.

At Matt’s request, his body will be cremated, and there will be no services. Matt felt fortunate to have been able to spend the past year celebrating his life in large and small ways with his friends and family that he loved so much. Cancer taught Matt many lessons about the value of time, and he would much prefer everyone use the hours that would have been spent attending services to make memories with family, volunteer, or engage in a random act of kindness to brighten someone else’s day.

Memorials may be directed to the Matt Henkel fund at First National Bank in Amboy to be used for his children’s college education, the Wee One Foundation, or the donor’s choice. The omission of flowers is requested. 

Arrangements by the Jones Funeral Home in Dixon. 

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