Remembering talented Abilene whistler, Paul Matta dies at the age of 66


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Paul Matta’s life was centered around his family, friends and community. His love for the city of Abilene and it’s people ran deep, impacting hundreds across the Key City.

His voice was known by many, but maybe even more familiar, was his all-powerful whistle that could knock you off your feet.

“He just whistled,” Close friend Kim Melnyk said. “In fact, he made me a whole CD of just songs he was whistling. He had just this amazing talent.”

More importantly, Melnyk and Matta’s relationship spanned 24 years, and Matta ended up at every major family event in Melnyk’s life.

They met when he was a chaplain at Abilene’s Hendrick Hospital in 1997, when Melnyk was a young, single mother just getting her foot in the door of the medical field.

“There’s not one person he wouldn’t talk to,” Melnyk explained. “He never met a stranger.”

Their relationship blossomed, and Melnyk invited Paul Matta to sing Keeper of the Stars by Tracy Byrd in her wedding. Those who knew Matta knew he wasn’t a country singer, but he went home and made his own rendition of the song to perform at their wedding.

Wendy Lorenz, another close friend of Matta, met him as a business partner, inviting him to perform at the nursing home where she was working. Matta would come perform on Mother’s and Father’s Days, as well as Christmas, but Lorenz said he would never take a dime.

“He could be at an event for hours,” Lorenz recalled. “He could be in a planning meeting for hours and never take a penny.”

Speaking to Paul Matta’s generosity, Lorenz said Matta would tell her that the Lord was calling him to spread joy through his singing and whistling. It was his mission field.

She said Matta loved the people he performed for and took care of, so much so that he would come at the blink of an eye, any day and any hour, when called.

“At 3 o’clock in the morning, I’d call him many nights and say a family needs you,” Lorenz remembered. “I don’t care what the weather was, he’d get in his car and he would be there.”

Paul Matta, dressed in Christmas suit

Both Lorenz and Melnyk said that Paul Matta was as dapper as they came, in his own unique way. Whether that was wearing a red suit with flashing lights for Christmas, or a bright green and purple velvet suit for other special occasions; Matta knew how to show up in style.

“The ties always matched, and the socks always matched.” Lorenz said.

Friends remember Matta’s incredible sense of humor that could light up any room, and when he had the chance, he’d take his shot at playing Cupid.

“He was always trying to fix me up with somebody around the hospital,” Melnyk said thoughtfully.

“He would tell me, there’s lots of doctors, lots of good old boys,” Lorenz said laughing. “But, it’s Texas. You need a cowboy.”

Through all of the ups and downs of life, Lorenz and Melnyk both detailed that he would love his family, his friends, Abilene and the community before himself any day of the week.

Paul Matta’s visitation service will be held on Saturday, December 11 from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Funeral Home Chapel on Highway 277.

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