In Remembrance

Matthew W. Varner (1955-2017) 

It is with deep sadness that NASBP announces that NASBP activist Matthew W. Varner of the NASBP Member firm of Willis of North Carolina, Inc. died peacefully at age 61 at home on March 12, 2017, surrounded by family.

NASBP Immediate Past President Susan Hecker, who is Executive Vice President and National Director of Contract Surety at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. in San Francisco, related, "Matt had many friends in the industry including many of us who worked with him on occasion and found him to represent Willis and his customers very well. He will be missed."  

A colleague, David S.J. Wightman, Senior Vice President - West Region Surety Practice Leader at Willis of Texas in Houston, described Matt as the epitome of a southern gentleman and a friend to so many of us who were fortunate to have crossed paths with him. His standing in the Carolina’s surety community was unparalleled and he was well known and respected in both the surety and construction industry. Wightman said, "Matt was the proverbial dean of the business. I’m glad to have called him a friend. His advice was sought by many colleagues and clients. His portfolio of clients was mostly made up of long-standing relationships and the names of not only highly respected Carolina firms and others around the US but also International firms. Matt’s battle was most courageous and his positive spirit never left him. In a recent conversation, we referenced a rodeo at CFMA’s national conference we attended together. He joked about how he would be the bull in this battle! We will all miss Matt terribly but know that his faith was steadfast and that he for sure is in a most glorious place.”    

He received a BS from the University of Delaware in 1977 and a MBA from the University of Georgia in 1978. In 1978, Matt moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he began his career in the surety industry and worked for Willis of North Carolina, Inc. for over 37 years serving as Senior Vice President and leading the agency's Carolinas Construction Practice. He was an active member of the Construction Financial Management Association Charlotte Chapter. 

Matt is survived by his wife of 38 years, Jane, son Timothy and wife Lauren of Charlotte, North Carolina, son Christopher and wife Hannah of Raleigh, North Carolina, and grandchildren Gray and Reid. He is also survived by his brother, Allen Varner and wife Sheila, of Montgomery, Alabama.

A service was held in March at St. Gabriel Catholic Church followed by a gathering of family and friends.

The family asks that donations in Matt's name be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. To view an obituary for Matt, click here. Consider posting a condolence message to Matt's family at a tribute wall of the Kenneth W. Poe Funeral and Cremation Service or of

Please join the NASBP Leadership and staff in expressing our deepest sympathies to Matt's family.