Matthew Stutsel was born on Monday 6 October 1969 and died on Thursday 16 April 2015. He leaves behind his wife, Elizabeth, his children, an extended family, a large group of social friends, and associates and friends in the property, legal and accounting communities. From 2011 Matthew was National Head of State Tax at KPMG. Prior to that, he was a partner at Freehills for more than ten years. Matthew grew up in southern Sydney, attended Sydney Grammar School and the University of New South Wales where he received degrees in Law and Science.
On Friday 24 April 2015 a memorial service was held for Matthew in the Palm Chapel of Macquarie Park Cemetery and Crematorium. The chapel was overflowing.
On Tuesday 14 April, I spoke to Matthew in a corridor at KPMG. It was very far from a pass of the nod of the head and polite meaningless words. My reflections on that discussion have been sustained by the many comments made by others since his death.
The essence of talking to Matthew was that it was uplifting. This was a complex thing that went beyond cheeriness. His smile drew you in. He gave you his full attention. His comments were intelligent and often highly so. Importantly, you felt his immaculate grooming, his stylish dress and his sense of carriage. It was a form of art. It went with his love of champagne, the black tie and his sense of action sports. Thus meeting him was elevating. You didn’t always know why, but he left you smiling, and he left you, smiling.
For me the Memorial Service on Friday was full of duality. One listened to the text, but focused on the subtext. His flaws – so important in giving honour to the whole of an individual – were dealt with metaphorically by reference to his love of the Village People. Matthew was a perfectionist. That characteristic is a difficult burden, especially for those who cannot unburden.
Matthew loved Hamlet. The principal reading of the service was the well-known speech where Polonius provides advice to his son which culminates in the line “above all: to thine own self be true”. Like many great speeches in Shakespeare, it is read in different ways. One felt its duality. What is “thine own self”?
The funeral carried an inherent tension between immeasurable sadness and the desire to celebrate his life. It carried great empathy for his immediate family. And like all funerals it carried a gift that we should feel the beauty of life intensely as it is not long before we shuffle off this mortal coil.
As I left the service I thought that one of the most important aspects of the human condition is how unique we all are. It will be my abiding thought of Matthew. That, together with his Stutsletean form of Life as Art.
Ave Atque Vale Matthew Stutsel.
by Grant Wardell Johnson. Partner, Tax
Feature Image: Vineyard in Champagne Region, France. Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo