Heather and Matthew Badore loved traveling, demolition derbies, and their dog Mackenzie Jane (who loved them just as much), friends said.

Heather, 50, and Matthew, 42, and the family dog died late on Dec. 8 in a head-on collision on Route 9 in Keene, leaving behind loved ones and colleagues who remember the Swanzey residents for their warmth, positivity and energy.

Stephanie Shulda and her husband Paul Wood of Bernardston, Mass., have known Matthew Badore for more than 25 years. Wood and Matthew met at age 8 while growing up in Greenfield Mass., Shulda said, and she first met Matthew as a teenager. The three have remained close friends ever since, and Wood is the godfather of Matt’s 16-year-old son Ayden Badore.

When Heather started dating Matt about 15 years ago, she found a natural place in the friend group.

“She fit in right from day one,” Shulda said. “She was fun and exciting, always had a smile on her face.”

In addition to being a stepmom to Ayden, Heather was the mother of Kyle, 22, and Cole Sweet, 20.

Heather worked as a purchasing and administrative services manager at Main Street America Insurance in Keene, according to a company spokesperson. She joined the business in 2014, and colleagues say they will remember her for her positivity and drive.

“I have had the privilege of working alongside Heather for many years,” Daniel Fitzpatrick, an administrative operations supervisor at the company, said in a written statement. “We actually grew up in the same small community and it was a ‘small world’ occurrence when we first met and realized this. Over the years, we shared many laughs, meetings, projects, and even a couple of business trips. I always had the utmost respect for her. Heather will always be loved, missed, and will ALWAYS be our family.”

Jessica Eastman, an administrative technical specialist at the company’s Keene office, said Heather “persevered life’s trials and tribulations with a fierce force,” adding that she felt honored to have known and worked with her.

Diana Dillion, a receptionist at Main Street America, echoed those sentiments.

“Heather was the hardest working person I know. I respected and admired her strong leadership and willingness to teach or consult,” she said in a written statement. “I will miss her kind support and fun stories. My prayers go out to her family and friends.”

Matthew was a “gearhead,” according to Shulda, and spent several years taking on automotive work while also caring for Heather as she battled breast cancer. The couple moved to Swanzey in the summer of 2020, just as Heather’s health improved, and Matthew began working for a local concrete company.

Previously, the Badores lived in Matthew’s childhood home in Greenfield, according to Shulda. And while moving to the Monadnock Region wasn’t initially an easy experience, she said it was ultimately right for the Badores.

“I don’t think [Matt] could picture himself being anywhere else,” Shulda said, and Heather was finally much closer to her workplace.

The Badores enjoyed traveling together, and about two years ago took a road trip through the southern United States before swinging up to Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. (Matt was a die-hard Packers fan, according to Shulda.) And when they weren’t exploring the rest of the lower 48 states, they traveled around the Northeast, fueled by their love for motorsports and a devotion to watching demolition derbies as often as possible, Shulda said.

Though they enjoyed getting out and seeing new places, it was the special personal connections the Badores had at home that truly brought the couple joy, Shulda said. In the summer, they loved having people over.

“Every Sunday, Matty was firing up the grill,” Shulda said. And during the week, Shulda and her husband would stop by the Badores’ on their lunch break, always finding the door open and friends ready for a visit.

The couple’s hospitality extended beyond just helping those they were close with, Shulda said. Heather and Matthew were always quick to extend a helping hand, opening their home to anyone who fell on hard times and needed a place to stay.

Around seven years ago, Heather was diagnosed with breast cancer. With resilience and strength, she faced the disease and other health complications, while Matthew supported her as he could, Shulda said. He began cooking and baking — a notable achievement for him, according to Shulda, and a definitive sign of love.

“I never have known Matt to cook anything but ramen noodles before he met her,” Shulda said. And as his skills improved, friends began calling him “Matty Crocker,” a play on the Betty Crocker brand.

Though challenging, Heather’s health issues didn’t bar her from living her life. While homebound, she doubled down on her love for knitting, often donating her skillful creations, Shulda said. In Massachusetts, she was also involved in Franklin County’s Relay for Life event, which raises money for the American Cancer Society.

“They were really some amazing people,” Shulda said. “And they’re definitely missed.”

Molly Bolan can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436 or mbolan@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @BolanMolly.