A Monmouth man who worked as a 911 dispatcher in Winthrop and as a part-time police officer in two other central Maine towns died at his home Thanksgiving morning after suffering an unexpected medical emergency.

Mathew Guilfoyle, 38, was with his wife, Nicole, and their baby daughter, Eleanor, when he died, according to friends of the family. On Monday, those friends remembered Guilfoyle as exceptionally kind and loyal, if occasionally strong-headed.

“It’s a shock,” said Chief Scott MacMaster of the Richmond Police Department, where Guilfoyle worked as a part-time officer. “It’s extremely sad. Matt was one of those silent heroes you don’t hear much about.”

In addition to working as a part-time officer in Richmond and as a dispatcher in the Winthrop Police Department, Guilfoyle also served as constable in his hometown of Farmingdale.

MacMaster, who has known Guilfoyle for about 25 years, said the cause of his death has not been confirmed, but that it may have been a heart attack.

MacMaster was the best man at Guilfoyle’s wedding. Before working together in Richmond, both also served in the Greenville Police Department.

“We were pretty close,” MacMaster said. “He was a strong personality, oftentimes opinionated but extremely caring, loving and loyal. If I had to pick one word to completely sum him up, it would just be loyal. He was always my go-to-guy when things were down and out.”

When MacMaster’s sons were born and when his own wife died after a battle with cancer, Guilfoyle comforted him, “only saying things when they needed to be said, not being overbearing,” he said.

Yet they also knew how to rib each other.

“If I’m Tigger, Matt would be Eeyore,” MacMaster said, referring to two characters, a bouncy tiger and pessimistic donkey, in the “Winnie-the-Pooh”stories. “That’s how people would look at us.”

MacMaster recalled going on a trip to Las Vegas with Guilfoyle. After Guilfoyle won $50 on a game, he stepped away and expressed skepticism that MacMaster would have any luck on it.

But when MacMaster won $1,200, he said, “Matt’s immediate response was some profanity, but he was basically being ridiculous. Then he demanded I give him half of it because he warmed it up. My response was, ‘It’s my birthday. I’m not giving you half.’ That’s a pretty good example of our relationship and friendship: constantly bantering, both enjoying life.”

Representatives from the Winthrop Police Department also expressed their condolences in a post on the department’s Facebook page, writing, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of (part-time dispatcher Guilfoyle), who we lost on Thanksgiving day. Mathew was a great friend, co-worker and more importantly a great husband and great dad. We will miss him.”

In the wake of Guilfoyle’s death, family friends have created an online fundraiser on the website You Caring for the memorial and household expenses that his wife and daughter will now face. Heidi McDonald, who has been friends with Nicole since childhood, spearheaded the fundraiser.

“When Matt and Nikki started dating in 2003, it was clear that she was just smitten with him, just enamored of him,” McDonald said. The news of his death, she continued, “was really shocking. It did not seem real. Thinking about his daughter growing up without knowing him was one of the hardest parts, but one of the things that Nikki and Matt’s friends and family have been focusing on is making sure his daughter knows how much he loves her.”

McDonald recalled how Guilfoyle would do favors for friends, like helping them move, and would also send nice messages to them on every holiday. She expressed appreciation to everyone who has contributed to the fundraiser and supported his family in other ways, whether by sharing memories of Guilfoyle or offering to help with tasks such as babysitting Eleanor, who is now less than a year old.

“He just absolutely loved his daughter,” McDonald said. “Anyone that saw them together could see just how much he adored her.”

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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