Matt Stark died April 20, 2013

John Matthew Stark of Starkville, Mississippi formerly of Newport, Arkansas departed this life on Saturday, April 20, 2013, at the age of 27.  He was born January 10, 1986, in Newport the son of John Stephen and Debbie (Melton) Stark.

Matt was a 2004 graduate of Newport High School and was a Valedictorian of his class.  During his time at Newport High School, Matt played football and baseball for the Newport Greyhounds, was a member of the National Honor Society, and was voted “Most Handsome” by the Class of 2004.  He was also active in the 4-H Club beginning at the age of 11 until he was 18.  Matt won the Arkansas State Fair Grand Champion Pen of Broilers, which earned him a substantial scholarship to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.  He also participated in Odyssey of the Mind and traveled to several regional and state competitions.

Following high school, Matt attended the University of Arkansas where he earned a Bachelors Degree in Agriculture in December of 2008.  He then pursued and earned his Master’s in Animal Physiology from the University of Arkansas in 2013 and was pursuing a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi.  During his college years, he continued to enjoy sports, playing intramural softball in both Fayetteville and Starkville.

Matt was a Christian, which was always evident in the way that he loved and treated others.  He was a member of the Remmel Church of Christ in the Remmel Community of Newport.

Matt was passionate about the things he loved, which in turn, made people love him.  Matt’s fun loving spirit made him the life of the party, just being around him would make most anyone smile.  From a young age, Matt always loved animals.  He has had most every kind of animal in Arkansas existence.  Anyone who knew Matt, was well aware that he was a devoted sports fan and loved the St. Louis Cardinals and the Arkansas Razorbacks; he even ended everything he wrote with “WOO PIG SOOIE!”  Matt also spent every game being a sideline coach and discussing the game victories and defeats with his brother in law and friends.  He loved being in the “middle of everything.”

Matt enjoyed every outdoor activity imaginable; he hiked, rode mountain bikes, camped and canoed.  He and his Dad took an annual canoe trip to the Buffalo River.  Matt was an avid hunter and fisherman.  He loved hunting deer, turkey, and especially duck hunting.  And, he genuinely enjoyed eating the wild game and as a true Southern man, he enjoyed no drink better than his sweet tea.  Matt loved time spent with the family at their hunting cabin in Cleburne County.

So many facts and accomplishments of Matt Stark can be written but none as great as the love that he made people feel and the way those who came to know him grew always to love him.

John Matthew Stark was loved dearly by so many people, but none more than his family.   He will forever be remembered for his big smile and the kind, gentle spirit that put the sparkle in his blue eyes.   He was a blessing in the lives of all those he touched.

Matt was preceeded in death by his paternal grandfather, John C. Stark.

He is survived by his parents, Steve and Debbie Melton Stark of Newport, a sister, Stephanie Stark Jones and husband, Tommy, of Jonesboro, his paternal grandmother, Ragene Hughes Stark of Heber Springs, his maternal grandparents, Darrel and Wanda Norris Melton of Newport, two nieces, Maddie and Macie Jones of Jonesboro.  Also surviving are his aunts and uncles, Bob and Susan Heard of Sherwood, Ty and Cindy Honey of Newport, and Bud and Sarah Melton of Evansville, Indiana and four cousins, Justin Honey, Taylor Honey, Jeff Heard, and Joe Heard.

Visitation was Tuesday, April 23, 2013, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.  Funeral Services were Wednesday, April 24, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. at Jackson’s Newport Funeral Home Chapel with Brother Dave Jackson and Brother Sonny Simpson officiating.  Interment was in Watson Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to the Jackson County Humane Society, P.O. Box 154, Newport, Arkansas 72112 or the Humane Society of your choice.

To sign the online guest register, light a memorial candle, or leave a message of condolence, please visit our website at

Arrangements by Jackson’s Newport Funeral Home.