It was love at first sight for David Mateer when he stumbled upon a children's performing arts group in Greensburg nearly a decade before his death last year, recalled his mother, Charlotte B. Mateer-Obert.
"David got so excited," Mrs. Mateer-Obert of Mt. Lebanon said.
Mr. Mateer, who at the time of his death at age 58 was general manager of Race Tires America of Indiana, was so supportive of Stage Right! that he established a foundation to enable students from single-family homes to follow their dreams of studying musical theater.
Mrs. Mateer-Obert said her son, who had a master's degree in chemical engineering, had a natural love for the arts, even though he had no formal training.
"He always loved music and theater," she said, adding that after his death she discovered he had been writing poetry.
So, according to his mother, it was only natural that his family continue his legacy by making a $200,000 contribution in his name to help Stage Right! to purchase a new building at 105 W. Fourth St., Greensburg.
The building, a former school, houses the organization's offices along with instructional rooms for its young students.
"He would have wanted it," Mrs. Mateer-Obert said.
Last month, the Mateer family gathered with Stage Right! faculty and supporters for a formal check presentation and the official naming of the organization's building as The David Mateer Center for the Performing Arts.
The Mateer family's contribution came out of a foundation organized in 2002.
The contribution kicks off a $750,000 capital campaign by Stage Right! to obtain the remainder of the money needed to acquire the building and implement a long-range community-oriented plan, Dreams build Dreams, said artistic director Anthony Marino.
"Our purpose is to provide a place where kids start the journey to the arts," he stated.
Stage Right! provides instruction in voice, acting, dance and musical theater for children ages 4 to 18 from Westmoreland, Allegheny and Fayette counties.
About 450 students participate each year in classes and workshops offered at the theater institute.
There is also the Stage Right! Professional Theatre Company that offers a full season of professional theater presentations. The company performs at various local venues, including the Palace Theater in Greensburg.
Other offerings include: Books Come Alive, a series of productions bringing best-loved children's books alive through adaptations, music and live actors; Kids Take A Stand, a series of outreach programs offered to schools and education facilities; Stage Right! Sensations, a musical theater group of young performers, ages 8 to 18; and Home School, a series of classes for home-schooled students.
Linda Metz, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.