What do an auctioneer, a bus driver, and a Mason have in common? They are all one man—Matthew Heath. Heath believes in the importance of serving others in Hancock County. These three roles are some of the channels he uses to give of himself to the local community.
Heath is a 2011 graduate of Eastern Hancock High School who then went on to the Reppert School of Auctioneering, obtaining his license in 2012. He became interested in this career when he went to auctions as a child with his father. By the 8th grade Heath already had his own style of an auctioneer’s chant. Many found it impressive for one so young but he laughed, “It was pretty terrible, compared to what I do today.”
During high school he was doing benefit auctions, and often friends would ask him to “sell” something in class. He would launch into his patter, commenting that it would annoy some teachers but others were supportive of his budding career.
Heath sells everything from farm implements, livestock, personal property, and estates. He must be able to make an appraisal of an item within seconds of picking it up, assessing the age, condition, and value. He also needs to be adept at reading the crowd. “I wear a lot of hats when auctioneering,” says Heath.
These skills enable him to help those in need, whether he is doing a benefit auction or liquidating an estate. He knows the better he can master his craft, the more money will be made for a local charity or bereaved family members of the recently deceased.
Being able to shift gears quickly when auctioneering helped ready him for driving a school bus. He must be prepared for anything, and be able to quickly adapt to any situation. He shopped around with the other schools but found he was too loyal to the Eastern Hancock community to seriously consider driving for another school. He enjoys his time with the youngsters, and interacts with the children of his former classmates.
Additionally, Heath is a farmer who works with his father on two different properties in the production of corn, soybeans, and cattle. He can’t remember if he is a 4th or 5th generation farmer. He hopes the family tradition will continue on into the subsequent generations.
The Shirley Masonic Lodge is another area of local service for Heath, who is a Mason there. He feels the organization is a ray of hope in an area that has seen some business closings. The lodge plans a 5K, an Easter egg hunt, and a fish fry to help bring the community together. They also raise funds for a scholarship—$1500 to a college-bound Eastern Hancock senior.
Heath has been together with his wife Kristi since 2013—their 7th time dating. They dated on and off in middle and high school, and had actually spent time at the same babysitter as children. “We didn’t have to go through all that getting-to-know-you stuff, but then I couldn’t tell her I was a test pilot for NASA either,” Heath joked.
Both the Heaths are involved in two different churches: Wilkinson Church of Christ, and Shirley-Wilkinson United Methodist Church. Says Heath: “I try to help everybody I can but I’m savvy. I was raised to help others, if it’s within my means. There’s always more I could do as a citizen and as a human.”
Heath feels the community showed showed exemplary behavior in the way it supported the family of a local student who died earlier this year . He says this is the reason he is committed to this place, and will never leave Hancock County. “I was born here and I will die here. And in the time in between I just try to do my best.”