GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas --
, 47, passed away unexpectedly on September 24, 2016, in Arlington, Texas.
Cremation has taken place, and a celebration of Matt's life is being planned for early November at the Japanese Gardens in Fort Worth.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Matt's name to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Condolences may be made via Matt's Facebook page, or in care of Greenwood Arlington Chapel, via
Matthew was born December 18, 1968, in Barberton, Ohio. After graduating from Wadsworth (Ohio) High School in 1987, Matt enrolled at Kent State University in their nationally acclaimed aeronautics/flight technology program. While attending Kent, Matt worked four years for the campus security service, which enabled him to graduate debt free with a bachelor of science degree in 1991. Matt also served as a certified flight instructor during his last three semesters. Following graduation, Matt built on his security background in taking a job as a police officer for the city of Wyoming, Ohio. He was a proud graduate of the Ohio State Police Academy and served the community of Wyoming for eight years. His yearning to return to his true passion as a pilot was finally realized in 1999 when Matt accepted a position as a freight pilot flying for Airnet Systems of Columbus, Ohio. Eighteen months later he moved on to flying passengers for Comair, a subsidiary of Delta Airlines, based in Cincinnati. He eventually attained the rank of captain of a crew based at JFK International Airport in New York City. Another life-long passion of Matt's was "America's team," the Dallas Cowboys. While working for Airnet, Matt accepted a transfer to the Dallas area, where he resided since September 1999. In 2011, he was hired by Southwest Airlines, which enabled him to be based at Love Field, a 20-minute drive from his home.
An avid world traveler, Matt visited all six of the inhabited continents. He was also a certified scuba diver, a fourth-degree black belt in
tae kwan do
, and an accomplished photographer.
The family wishes to thank the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association and the Southwest Airlines Inflight Association for their incredible support following Matt's passing.
Matt is survived by his mother, Ellen Louis-Maubert of San Diego, Calif.; his father, Paul Smeller and his wife, Peggy of Albuquerque, N.M.; his brother, Carl Smeller, his wife, Michelle, and their son, Tristan, of Fort Worth, Texas; and his sister, Christina Joy of Albuquerque. Foremost, he is survived by his fiancée Natasha Heidlage, a Southwest flight attendant and registered nurse, who lovingly and faithfully cared for Matt in his struggles with the complications of West Nile virus.