Hundreds of people attended a celebration of life at St. Rita Catholic Church in Wellington on Tuesday, Nov. 30 for much-loved Wellington resident Matthew J. Tarantino, 34, who passed away on Sunday, Nov. 21.
Andrew Burr, a close friend and mentor, shared the news of Tarantino’s passing on social media. Loved and adored by many in the community, especially with his close ties to the equestrian and theater industries, the news of Tarantino’s passing was hard received by many.
“On Sunday, Nov. 21, we lost my longtime assistant and top-producing Realtor, Matthew J. Tarantino,” said Burr, who worked with Tarantino at Coldwell Banker Realty in Wellington. “The outpouring of love and condolences has quite frankly been overwhelming. I am not surprised. Professionally, or on a personal level, Matthew had an uncanny ability to connect with people on a sub-surface level almost instantly. Matthew went into meeting each and every person with an earnest desire to love and be loved, regardless of conditions, and I believe this allowed him to form these bonds so quickly, yet so enduringly.”
Tarantino was many things to many people, but several areas stood out, including his lifelong love of theater.
“Matthew always expressed pure joy in attending a production on Broadway, at the Kravis Center, the Maltz Jupiter Theater or even the Lake Worth Playhouse,” Burr said. “The depth of his knowledge about the people and history behind the productions was astounding, and his love for the form led him to work in almost every aspect of theater through the years. Some of the fondest and most interesting stories he would tell were of his time with MNM Theatre Company and behind the scenes at Kravis.”
Tarantino’s love of all things Disney was legendary.
“Matthew carried a piece of Disney in his heart wherever he went,” Burr said. “He certainly carried bits and pieces of Disney music, bling, art and bric-a-brac to every office we ever shared, and I think he was truly most happy when in the confines of a Disney property. One of his favorite pastimes was planning his next trip.”
Yet Burr was most impressed by Tarantino on the professional level.
“When I met Matthew, he was the catering manager at the International Polo Club Palm Beach,” he said. “My first impression of him was that he was very competent and knew how to get things done. Over several years and events that he managed for us, I also quickly noticed that everyone he came across, be they employees or guests, absolutely lit up when they saw him. There were no ordinary encounters when it came to Matthew. Each one was filled with energy and usually laughter. Those of you who knew him well may recall that he had several very entertaining laughs depending on the situation. This sense of professionalism and amiableness carried over very easily and effectively to real estate. Matthew started with me as an assistant but quickly became a formidable real estate agent in his own right. In 2020, Matthew sold more than $5 million in real estate, making him one of the top agents in the western communities.”
There have been many glowing words used to describe Tarantino since his passing, including shining star, wonderful, kind, funny and loving.
“He had a love for grammatical accuracy, so I am going to use a grandiloquent, thereby more fitting word — precious,” Burr said. “Matthew had a great value to many people for many different reasons, but for me, it was his ability to relate to and poke fun at almost every situation imaginable that I was most fond of. Peace be with you, Matthew.”
Tarantino is survived by his parents, Michael Sr. and Carol Tarantino, his brother Michael Tarantino Jr., his sister-in-law Amy Sloan, his niece Caitlyn Stark and his beloved dog Max. He is also survived by a long list of cherished aunts, uncles and cousins.
His list of accomplishments and contributions are too vast to name. However, for anyone who knew him, they know the immeasurability of his impact and magical touch.