Family says goodbye to drowned teen

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:38 AM

“He was my little buddy,” said his older sister, Brandi Peterson, 26, of Zeeland. “I miss him a lot.”

Cody was the son of Lonna Maatman of Grand Haven Township and Tom Maatman of Fennville. The boy drowned Wednesday afternoon while trying to swim to a raft in Millhouse Bayou in Grand Haven Township with his younger brother, Heath, and another friend.

The two younger boys made it to the raft; Cody did not. The boys were not wearing life jackets.

It was almost four hours later that divers located Cody’s body in the mucky bottom of the bayou.

Police said the boys had been fishing from shore when they decided to take a swim. The younger boys were wearing shorts. Cody was wearing long pants, which may have hampered his ability to swim, police said.

Fishing and hunting were Cody’s true loves, according to family and friends. A lot of his activities were done with Heath at his side.

Cody’s aunt, Calli Baldock, said when the Maatmans visited her on Jordan Lake near Lake Odessa, Cody would go right around the house to the lake and fish the whole time he was there.

“He wouldn’t go tubing with the other kids," Baldock said. "He didn’t want to stop long enough to eat. The only time he would eat was when I cooked the fish that he caught.”

The Rev. Frank Senters asked people attending Monday's service at Dykstra Funeral Home’s Mulder Chapel in Holland to share their thoughts about Cody.

One man said he would often see Cody when he was out fishing. They would share bait and lures, and Cody would teach him a technique to help him get better. Despite the fact he was much older, he said Cody taught him a lot.

Catina Jacobs, an art assistant at West Michigan Academy of Arts and Academics, said Cody was always doing silly things on the playground when he attended the Ferrysburg school.

“He made me laugh,” she choked out as she started to cry.

Cody was born in Holland and attended Hamilton schools before moving to Grand Haven in 2004. He attended West Michigan Academy of Arts and Academics, and then went to Grand Haven High School for ninth grade. He would have been a sophomore this fall.

“He was a good kid,” said his father, Tom Maatman. “He loved to hunt and fish. He just loved the outdoors.”

Tom Maatman’s longtime friend, Rollie Rowan, said the guys would get together every year at his cabin at Skanee for four-wheeling.

“We’d go see the waterfalls,” Rowan said. “After a few years, Cody just wanted us to drop him off at the lake so he could fish.”

Cody’s other sister, Cortnay Ray of Grand Haven, said her 3-year-old always wanted to be with Cody when he visited. When Ray went to her mother’s home to visit, she said Cody would lock himself in a room so Ray could not smother him with kisses.

“I would always tackle him, even though he was a lot bigger than me,” Ray said.

Some of Cody’s most treasured times were spent with his friend, Butch Rose, Baldock said. She noted that when Cody saw a fishing boat for sale, he told Butch about it and Butch bought the boat.

“That’s the only time (Butch) caught more fish than Cody,” Baldock said. “Because Cody was so excited about the boat.”

Baldock said Cody worked hard saving money, initially for a kayak, but Butch talked him out of it because the boy really needed a new bicycle, she said.

On July 8, Cody called Butch and asked him to pick up his old bike at Walmart, Baldock said. Cody was going to ride his new bike home.

“He spent every penny he had on that bike,” Baldock said.

“Life is short” and “life can end at any time,” Pastor Senters said during the service.

“I’ve had parents come to me and ask, ‘Why would God take someone at this age?’” Senters said.

Senters said he then poses the question to them: “When is the right time for someone to leave this earth?” The answer to us is that it is never the right time, he said.

Senters read from a poem about death titled “If I Knew.”

“Hold your loved ones close today,” he told the couple hundred mourners in the chapel. “We need to make the most of today.”

Memorial contributions to help the Maatman family with funeral costs may be sent to: Cody Lee Maatman Memorial Fund, c/o Tom Maatman, 5436 128th Ave., Fennville, MI 49408.

Thoughts about Cody may be left at memorial Facebook pages in Cody’s name.

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