Saint Joseph’s organist has been making heavenly music for decades


MASSILLON – For decades, Fred Locker has been an organ in the choir gallery of local churches sharing his musical gift.

“It’s my form of worship,” said the 60-year-old. “I grew up with Jesus in my heart from day one.”

For nearly eight years, Locker served as music minister at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

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He will give a farewell concert on Sunday. Before the concert, the Rev. Raymond Paul will dedicate the organ of the church.

Locker’s love for music

Locker’s mother, Neva Duvall Locker, music teacher and choir director, instilled in him her love of singing and music. She encouraged Fred to take piano lessons.

In high school, he started sharing his talents in a small church in Kilgore. He later played the organ at other venues, including his childhood Trinity Lutheran Church in Carrollton.

As a student at Akron University and choir teacher, he continued to play the organ in the churches of Suffield, Magnolia, Carrollton and St. Stephen Martyr in Jackson Township and in the church. Lutheran Church of Zion in North Canton.

After his retirement from the Jackson Local Schools in 2013, he was contacted by Patty Carmola, a member of the St. Joseph Choir. She suggested that he talk about a job with the church deacon, but Locker didn’t call. Carmola persisted, and Locker finally took the call.

At the time, he was still playing at the Lutheran Church in Zion, but because Saint Joseph needed an organist for a few Sundays, he was able to help.

He continued to serve both parishes for over six months. In July 2014, he became full-time Minister of Music at St. Joe’s.

“It was a post-retirement job,” Locker explained. He retired as a choir director in Jackson after 25 years, but now is the time to move on.

Locker and his wife, Joy, will move to Naperville, Illinois to be closer to their son, Eric, and his wife, Carolyn.

While he won’t give up the church organ altogether, Locker has promised his son that he won’t take a full-time job so the family can attend church together.

“It’s sad to see him go, but new adventures take you to different places and family comes first,” said Julie Dewald, director of the St. Joseph Youth Choir. “It’s all about the family.”

Dewald, a music teacher at Franklin Elementary School, knew Locker many years before they started working together in St. Joe’s.

Locker is a genuine person who cares about the music and the people he comes in contact with, she said.

“He is a professional musician who has dedicated his life to music and his career,” said Dewald. “He’s versatile in his talents. I think he really enjoyed the time spent with the adult choir and making happy music together. I always say when you sing in church you pray twice. . It’s pretty special to share your talents. It’s a ministry. “

Fred Locker, organist of the Saint-Joseph Catholic Church in Massillon, will give a farewell organ recital on November 7.  During the performance, the Reverend Raymond Paul will inaugurate the new organ of the church.

Locker not only left his mark on local churches, but he also had a positive impact on young people, she added.

While studying for his MBA at Ashland, he helped plan, develop and implement the establishment of the Center for Performing Arts at Jackson High School.

Locker, who holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music education from Akron University, has also been involved with Voices of Canton (VOCI) and a barber shop quartet, Dewald said.

“It’s hard to leave that position,” Locker said. “Even though I’m not a Catholic, I’m still worshiping. Making music is worship for me.”

Mark Thewes will take over as the church’s music minister at the start of the new year. Thewes is no stranger to St. Joe’s. It is captioned for Locker and has performed on services.

A former Locker’s college buddy, he has spent the past 44 years at the organ at Westbrook Park United Methodist Church in Canton.

While Locker will play his last Mass at 11 a.m. on November 14, he will stand back to help guide the transition.

At his last mass, Locker invited former performers to sing the hymn that day. The choir of bells, which Locker helped revive in the church, will perform.

We will miss the locker, according to Paul.

“He was an excellent organist and choir director,” said the pastor. “We were satisfied.”

Organ dedication

At the start of Locker’s farewell concert, the new church organ will be inaugurated.

The church replaced its Allen organ, installed in the 1980s, with a state-of-the-art hybrid pipe organ in early 2019. Locker was instrumental in installing the new organ in the church.

A dedication will be held for St. Joseph's Catholic Church's new Rudy Lucente Allen hybrid organ on November 7th.  The church replaced its organ at the beginning of 2019 with the hybrid pipe organ which has around 1,000 pipes.

The hybrid organ consists of a Rudy Lucente Allen organ and approximately 1000 pipes in various materials ranging from a few inches to 9 feet.

All pipes, metal and wood, are refurbished from several locations.

The purchase of the organ was financed by a fundraising campaign. Church members have pledged $ 329,000 over three years. Shortly after the start of the campaign, the target was exceeded, allowing additional work to be carried out, including the renovation of the choir, a new sound system and other repairs to the building.

Locker had hoped to dedicate the organ earlier, but things kept getting in the way. Work was still underway to fine-tune the new instrument, and then COVID hit.

He thought that if he was going to give a farewell concert, it would be the perfect time to dedicate the organ.

“I loved working with Father Paul, church staff and parishioners,” Locker said. “It’s hard for me to leave this position. It’s a great place to work and worship.”

Contact Amy at 330-775-1135 or [email protected]

On Twitter: @aknappINDE

If you are going to

What: Farewell recital and dedication with the Rudy Lucente Allen hybrid organ.

When: 3 p.m. on November 7

Where: St. Joseph Catholic Church, 322 Third St. SE

Who: Frederick J. Locker, Minister of Music

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