Locklin-Mathias feels like she's coming home
Annie Locklin-Mathias. (Philip Petrunak)
After spending much of her childhood at the Philip Dressler Center, Annie Locklin-Mathias once again calls Laurel Arts home.
Locklin-Mathias, 40, is the daughter of former Laurel Arts executive director, the late Robert Locklin. Her father held the position from 1988-96.
Locklin-Mathias now works to attract people to the organization that meant so much to her father.
“Laurel Arts has such a warm place in my heart,” she said.
For the past year Locklin-Mathias has coordinated membership and marketing for the organization.
“It feels really neat to be here,” she said. “It has that coming home feeling for me. I felt welcomed immediately.”
Locklin-Mathias said she often meets people who remember her as a teenager who participated at the center. They remember her from the years she spent alongside her father. Her name is hyphenated to maintain that connection with him, she said. She has also developed a bond with those who knew Locklin.
“I feel really close to him here even though he’s gone,” she said. “He’s left such a mark on the organization.”
Each year Laurel Arts presents a scholarship established in memory of Locklin – the Locklin Award for Excellence in the Arts. The award goes to students who excell in all areas of the arts – music, vocals, dance, drama, visual arts and creative writing. Locklin-Mathias is involved in the scholarship’s selection process.
“He had a way of touching a lot of people,” she said of her father, who had an M.A. in Music Composition. His contributions to Laurel Arts’ Jazz Festival and the dance program were his greatest achievements at the center, Locklin-Mathias said. He taught music education for 26 years before entering his second career as executive director of Laurel Arts.
“He made an impact everywhere he went,” she said. “And he did it in such an unassuming way. He was a really great man.”
The center became Locklin’s sanctuary after his wife and Annie’s mother, Shirley died in 1990. Locklin remarried in 1994 to Sally Locklin. The two were married for 12 years until he died in 2006, his daughter said. Sally Locklin continues to play an intricate role to Locklin’s scholarship, his daughter added.
After leaving the area, she returned to Somerset to raise a family of her own. Locklin-Mathias is happy to live in the place her father loved.
Locklin-Mathias graduated from Rockwood Area High School before obtaining a degree in communications at Grove City College. She moved to Columbus, Ohio and then to Pittsburgh, before meeting her husband Kevin – a former high school classmate. Her husband is the brother-in-law of Somerset Area High School Superintendent Krista Mathias.
“He used to sit in front of me on the way to school,” she said. “It’s funny how things come full circle.”
Locklin-Mathias said she has no intentions of moving away from Somerset again.
“ I have the best of both worlds here — a job that I love and time to spend with my family,” she said. Her three children – Owen, 9, Grant, 6, and Ruthie, 4, now too call Laurel Arts their home.
“It’s great to see all of the opportunities that are available to them,” she said. “What an awesome place to raise a family.”