Matthew York Jr., a popular 2003 graduate of Portland High School who had an infectious smile and generously gave to others, died unexpectedly on Sunday. He was 29.

Mr. York completed two years at the University of Maine, where he was pursuing a degree in business. He was currently working at the 7-Eleven on Washington Avenue in Portland, and was planning to enroll in summer courses at the University of Southern Maine.

He finished his shift at the store Saturday afternoon, then went home to his parent’s house on Munjoy Hill. His mother, Linda York, said he wasn’t feeling well. Mr. York talked to both of his parents before lying down to rest. His mother said she checked on him several times through the night. Mr. York’s sister later checked on him and found he was not breathing.

An autopsy was performed on his body, but the results are inconclusive. Further tests are being done to determine how he died.

“I’m lost. Me and my husband are so lost,” his mother said in a shaky voice on Wednesday. “He was such a good soul. It (doesn’t make any) sense to me. I’m beating myself down trying to figure out what happened.”

Mr. York was working two jobs in recent days. For the past two months, he worked for his uncle’s business, Dirty Deeds, in Portland. He had been working at the 7-Eleven store for about a year and a half.

Tammy Sherwood, who owns the 7-Eleven, said Mr. York appeared fine on Saturday, though he was tired. He stayed up late Friday night worrying about his grandmother, who was dying. She died on Tuesday.

Sherwood said Mr. York was well-liked by employees and their customers.

“You couldn’t ask for a better kid,” Sherwood said. “He would light up a room. I can’t say enough about his character and what a great personality he had. He was one of a kind. He was one of those kids who talked to everyone and didn’t judge. He was a good person to be around. … He’s definitely going to be missed by all, but not forgotten. He left his mark with a lot of people.”

Mr. York grew up on Munjoy Hill. He was an academic standout at Portland High School, graduating in the top 10 percent of his class in 2003. He was a member of the Honor Society, as well as the Future Businessmen of America, according to his obituary.

Mr. York attended UMaine for two years, but left school when his father became ill. His mother said he was planning to enroll at USM to finish his business degree.

“He was a straight-A student. He was the type that when he set his mind to something, he did it,” his mother said. “I was so proud of him.”

The news of Mr. York’s death spread quickly on Facebook, where dozens of his friends shared memories and photos of him.

He was remembered this week as kind, generous, thoughtful and fun. Friends say he was a loyal friend, who gave hugs to everyone.

His friend Toni Magno wrote, “I’m just glad that when I saw you one week ago, that my last words to you were ‘I love you Matty’… I hope you knew how much you were loved!”

He had a close relationship with his father, Matthew York Sr.; and his sister, Meagan York, of Auburn. He also leaves a nephew, niece and many cousins.

Mr. York’s family set up a fund to help pay for his funeral expenses. To contribute, go to

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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