The passing of a beloved TOCA Member, Matt Shooner

The passing of a beloved TOCA Member

It’s with great sadness that we announce the death of Matt Shooner, a long-time Green Industry communicator and TOCA member. Son Joe, Matt and wife/mom Irene have been staples in TOCA and Project EverGreen (which I was fortunate enough to manage for eight years and work closely with TOCA) for a long, long time.

To me, Matt was the consummate professional and friend. He was a great communicator with a gravelly voice and one who probably should have been in radio. As a great comedian once said (and I think Matt would agree): “He had a great face for radio had he chosen that profession.”

When I first began working with Matt for Project EverGreen, we were just two “old” guys trying to figure out how Focal Point could help it get off the ground with that youngster son Joe at the head of the table with his ideas on web site communications and new media. It was pro bono in those early days as Matt saw a vision for Project EverGreen (and TOCA for that matter). He wanted to be part of it and, as you all know me, I was eager to tap into his company’s strengths (for the right price). Matt’s probably laughing about that right now. “You want us to do that for free?” he asked back in the early days. “Not a problem,” he said.

What really made us connect, however, were two important and most favorite things of my life: cookies and music. When I’d come home from GIE+EXPO each year, there wouldn’t be a hug from my wife Sandy. The first thing she’d say is: “Where are the Shooner cookies?” The second thing she’d say was: “What new music were they talking about? Does Joe have some new artists he’s watching closely?”

This Green Industry is about friendships, both professionally and personally. We’re gonna miss ya Matt. But there is some good news in the sadness. My dearly departed dad (almost 13 years now) loved chocolate chip cookies and gave me my love for green spaces with his miraculous lawn and landscape on our farm (thanks to all the work his two sons put in the yard each week growing up). He’s probably been waiting for Matt’s cookies and discussions about shrubs, grass and ball fields for a long time. Well dad, your wait is over. Look for the guy with the cookies and a hankering to talk about green!

~Den Gardner, Executive Director

Funeral services will be held in Cincinnati on May 30. Additional inquiries can be directed to Joe Shooner (

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