Maatman, 16, drowned Wednesday afternoon while swimming to a raft on Millhouse Bayou in Grand Haven Township. He was on a fishing outing with two other boys.
Emergency personnel searched for nearly four hours before finding the boy’s body shortly after 4:30 p.m. in about 8 feet of water in the silt-filled bayou off the Grand River.
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Joanne and Duane “Butch” Rose became friends with Cody two years ago and shared lots of good times, Joanne wrote in an e-mail to the Tribune.
“Cody spent many days at our home,” Joanne wrote. “Even Memorial Day weekend we had the pleasure of him all weekend.”
Cody and Butch were great fishing partners, she said. “They spent many hours together.”
Cody also helped with the Roses’ garden, Joanne wrote. He tried using potato bugs from the garden as fish bait.
“To us, Cody was like a grandson,” she noted. “My husband is now at a real loss without his sidekick. Not a moment fishing or working the garden will not hold a thought of our dear Cody.”
The Roses were not the only 168th Avenue residents who thought highly of Cody. Mariah Taylor, 15, said Cody and his brother, Heath, would often ride their bicycles past her house, pulling a wagon loaded with fishing tackle.
“I’ve known Cody since about the fourth grade,” Mariah said. “He lived four houses down from me. We hung out all the time as kids.”
Mariah said she and friends Kaylee and Kenzie Leslie would often head to the Maatman home in the summer, gathering by the swimming pool. There would be neighborhood bonfires and sleepovers.
“Cody and his brother were inseparable,” Mariah said. “They were constantly fishing and riding bikes together.”
The Maatmans moved out of the neighborhood about a year ago, but that was probably a good move for Cody because it took him closer to his fishing spots, Mariah said.
The Leslie girls' mother, Jane, said she saw a lot of Cody during the five years he lived in their neighborhood.
“He was a really happy-go-lucky kid and very shy,” Jane said. “But he always had a smile. He’d do anything for anybody. That’s what’s going to get me the most now — that big smile and waving — not seeing him anymore."
Jane said Cody saved the day one time when there was a snake on their property.
“We were all screaming and yelling,” she said. "Then here comes Cody. ‘I’ll get it,’ he said.”
It will be that much harder come Monday when Cody was supposed to help the Leslies with their garden, Jane said.
Alex Baxter also wrote about his fishing memories with Cody: “Cody and I have one thing in common — we both loved to fish! If Cody wasn’t at his house, I’d know he would either be down under Millhouse or Pottawattomie bridge."
Baxter said he's never seen a kid catch fish like Cody could.
"He'd be sitting across from me on the other side of the Pottawattomie bridge and he’d tell me to watch this — he'd cast out and before I was able to reel in my slack line, he would bring in a creeper, catfish or gill," Baxter wrote. "I swear he knew where the fish were and whether or not they were gonna' bite. I’ve watched him pull in monster 10- to 15-pound catfish and shrug it off like it was nothing.
"Not only was Cody a great fisherman, he also had a lot of heart," Baxter continued. "I’ve been down fishing under Pottawattomie bridge a couple times, and if he saw that I didn’t have very many fish to take back home and fillet, he’d always ask me if I wanted some of his. The one time I took him up on his offer, he gave me all of his biggest gills. Cody was a great kid and it'll be a little lonelier under the bridge now knowing that Cody isn’t here anymore.”
Cody would have been a 10th-grader at Grand Haven High School this fall. Grand Haven Area Public Schools officials said they were saddened by his death.
“He will be deeply missed,” Superintendent Keith Konarska said.
GHHS Principal Tracy Wilson said she spoke with some of Cody’s teachers Thursday morning. Wilson said they told her he was a hard worker and respectful, and would do whatever they asked of him.
“They all said he was a very quiet student," she said. "He was a very good kid."
During a sharing time at the school, Wilson said Cody would often share about fishing, hunting and country music.
“In the midst of that, he would talk about his brother, Heath,” she said. “They were very good friends and often did things together. It’s going to be hard on (Heath).”
School officials have mobilized the district's crisis team in response to the boy's death. Konarska said counselors have been meeting with students attending summer classes. The counselors are also available to any students needing support, he said.
Students can meet with counselors by calling the high school at 850-5000.
The Roses said Cody was “a truly moral and trusting individual.”
Joanne wrote: “There is a poem which reflects Cody — May your life be like a snowflake. May it leave a mark but not a stain.”
Cody was born March 27, 1995, in Holland. In 2004, he moved to Grand Haven Township. He was an avid hunter and fisherman, a member of North American Hunting Club, and spent many hours on the Grand River.
He is survived by his mother, Lonna Siegers Maatman of Grand Haven Township; father, Tommy Maatman of Fennville; sisters, Cortnay (Brian) Ray of Grand Haven and Brandi (Dewayne) Peterson of Zeeland; brother, Heath Maatman of Grand Haven Township; and grandmother, Cheri Hays of Holland.
Dykstra Funeral Home of Holland is handling funeral arrangements. The funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Monday at the Mulder Chapel, 188 W. 32nd St. Visitation is one hour prior to the service. Burial will be in Graafschap Cemetery.