Matt Schudel has been an obituary writer at The Washington Post since 2004. He grew up on a hog and dairy farm in Nebraska, attended a two-room country school for five years and graduated from high school with a class of 31. His hometown, North Loup, Neb. — current population, 297 — is known as the popcorn capital of the world.
He has degrees in English from the University of Nebraska and the University of Virginia and has never taken a course in journalism in his life. He worked for a now-defunct book division of U.S. News & World Report and was a copy editor for The Washington Post’s Book World and Style sections before moving on to journalism jobs in Raleigh, N.C., New York City and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
He has been a feature writer, magazine writer, jazz critic and art critic and has covered everything from murder cases to wild armadillos to the space program. He is the author of a photo-biography of Muhammad Ali's years in Miami and the ghost writer of the autobiography of civil rights photographer Flip Schulke. He likes writing obituaries because there is nothing more interesting than people's lives.