Those who work with Lois Beckner know to avoid her if they hear Mozart's “Requiem” coming from her office.
Beckner turns on that piece of music when she's working under a deadline for the Parks & Rec Guide, the thrice-yearly brochure put out by the Aberdeen Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department. It’s well known, Beckner says, that she's “a little grumpy if I'm playing the ‘Requiem.’ ”
But except for the duress brought on by deadlines, Beckner is a very happy person. For close to 20 years, Beckner has been cultural arts program coordinator for the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department.
“I consider myself lucky to have this job,” she says. “This is like a dream job.”
A Pennsylvania native, Beckner moved to Aberdeen with her husband, Troy, and their two sons in 1987. What brought the family to Aberdeen was Troy’s job with the 452nd Ordnance Company Army Reserve, for which he served as ammunition inspector.
After Lois had become established in her job, Troy had a chance to transfer to another city, where he’d also receive a promotion. But Lois didn't want to leave Aberdeen. So he left the military, for which his wife is grateful.
Beckner is responsible for many of the classes and programs offered at the Aberdeen Recreation and Cultural Center.
“In a nutshell, what I do is research current trends in arts, crafts and leisure activities. I create the programs and find the teachers and make sure we have the equipment and the facility to hold those classes,” she said in her office at the ARCC. In addition to seeing to it that the quality of programs stays high, Beckner “just generally” promotes the arts and learning. She is also in charge of the ARCC Gallery.
Beckner is a musician and an artist herself.
The instrument she plays best is the hammered dulcimer. Even though she doesn't read music, she also plays the guitar, harmonica, fife and accordion.
When she has free time, Beckner engages in pottery, painting, sculpture, jewelry and decorative work. She also likes to play with glass. But she doesn't do glass-blowing. That, she said, is “another expensive hobby I don't need to have.”
Beckner also uses feathers, often to create wings for angels.
“In fact, yesterday I was plucking a dead goose that had died out at Wylie,” she says.
The staff at Wylie, knowing of her fondness for feathers, lets her know when a bird is available. In addition, she sometimes incorporates dog hair in her art.
Beckner said she has attention deficit disorder.
“I just get bored easily and move on to the next thing,” she said.
Then, eventually, she returns to what she started with.
Beckner feels that people in this area have no idea what they have in the ARCC.
Aberdonians have access to classes and programs that they would pay much more for in larger cities. She is amazed by “the caliber of people that are willing to share their talents.” The people who teach the classes are paid a pittance, yet they are glad to do it, Beckner said.
“I come from the East Coast, and communities of this size do not have anything near like this,” she said.