Matthew Libby had so much to look forward to in his life.

He was a new father. His son, Alexander, was just 4 months old. He was engaged to Alexander’s mother. They planned to get married in May.

Libby was strong and healthy. He figured he was at low risk for getting a serious case of COVID-19. So he chose not to get vaccinated.

Matthew Libby with his son, Alex. Photo courtesy of Jenny Freeman

He died Jan. 28 of complications of COVID in the intensive care unit at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. 

He was 43 years old. He had spent 22 days in the hospital, all but the first three on a ventilator.

His fiancee, Jenny Freeman, who had been wary of getting the vaccine while she was pregnant, got vaccinated after he was hospitalized.


“It scared the heck out of us,” she said. “No one should have to go through what I’m going through now. No one.”

She was holding his hand when he died.

“I’m still in shock and absolutely devastated,” she wrote in a Facebook post a few days later. “It doesn’t matter how much doctors prepare you for the worst, you never really think it could happen. His poor body just couldn’t fight any longer.”

Libby grew up in Poland and was a 1998 graduate of Edward Little High School in Auburn, where he played football and ran indoor track.

At 17, he started working in the yard at Hancock Lumber in Windham, pulling orders for customers. He went on to work in shipping and receiving, and inside sales support. He was an account manager at the time of his death.

Freeman works at Hancock Lumber as a kitchen designer. That’s where the two of them met. She said that at first she was nervous to ride with him to job sites because he was so quiet and reserved. Then she got him to open up and they just kept talking.


“He was a very genuine person,” Freeman said. “He didn’t sugarcoat things or hold back, but he was ever so thoughtful in his delivery. He made his intentions clear. He was no nonsense, no games. He had a very dry sense of humor. Sometimes you didn’t know if he was (kidding) or insulting you.”

Matthew Libby and Jenny Freeman Photo courtesy of Jenny Freeman

They were together for two years. They lived together in New Gloucester. Freeman has three daughters – 6, 10 and 12. When she described how Libby opened his heart and his home to her girls, she choked up.

“He saw me for me, and he welcomed my children into his home,” Freeman said. “Matthew was all in, which was amazing to me. He warmed right up to them. They are devastated that he’s gone. They loved him dearly.”

Alexander’s birth on Oct. 4 changed him, Freeman said.

“In having his son, it was amazing to see this introverted, locked-down personality show so much emotion,” she said. “He was so loving and so cuddly, where he wasn’t normally like that. It changed him in such a positive way.”

Libby had dreams of coaching his son’s baseball team and teaching Alex to hunt and fish, just as his father, Ralph Libby, had taught him.

“That’s one of the things that hurts the most,” said Susan Libby, his mother. “He had three months with him. That’s not nearly long enough. He’ll never get that opportunity. It’s heartbreaking.”

Libby and Freeman got engaged in November. They were planning to be married by a justice of the peace in May and then to hold a backyard barbecue to celebrate.

“He was my forever. We were in this for the rest of our lives,” Freeman said. “I’ll miss everything. I’ll miss the way he loved me unconditionally and calmed me. He grounded me. He was my home. I’ll miss sharing our lives with each other.”

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