Samantha Dillehay and Natalie May

The Ada Arts Council, in recognition of her contribution to the arts in Ada, will posthumously name late ECU professor Sam Dillehay (left) the 2017 Outstanding Adan in the Arts. Sam’s girlfriend, Natalie May (right) will accept the award on Sam’s behalf at a free event from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Ada Arts and Heritage Center.

Natalie May

By all accounts, Samantha Dillehay was one of those people who leave a lasting impression on everyone they meet — an impression many of her students said kept them going through some of their darkest hours.

She met many of those students outside of the classroom, working on arts-related projects, like the Chickasaw Arts Academy. Those young people were often vulnerable — struggling to find their voice and their mode of artistic expression at a time when life itself is in a constant state of flux. In Samantha Dillehay — Sam, as she insisted — those young people found more than a teacher, more than a mentor. They found a friend.

Sam’s influence on those young lives would propel many of them into the arts, some right here in the Ada area. Sam’s fingerprints were all over events that helped shape and promote the arts in Ada. From direct involvement on boards, through ECU arts projects and her students and behind the scenes in the lives of those she touched, personally. Sam Dillehay was a living, breathing part of the arts in Ada.

Tragically, Sam’s life was cut short Sept. 28, 2017, when she lost a short, sudden battle with an aggressive form of cancer. Her loss came as a shock to her students and was keenly felt throughout the campus and arts communities.

Recognizing that Sam’s influence on the arts in Ada has been immeasurable; and that her ability to energize and fuel creativity in those around her and her commitment to that end has been instrumental in shaping and protecting the future of the arts in Ada, the Ada Arts Council will honor her during a “Cozy Up with the Ada Arts Council” event from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Ada Arts and Heritage Center, 400 S. Rennie in Ada.

There, in recognition of her contribution to the arts in Ada, Sam Dillehay will be posthumously named the 2017 Outstanding Adan in the Arts. Sam’s girlfriend, Natalie May, will accept the award on Sam’s behalf.

There is no cost to attend the event. All are invited to come and celebrate Sam Dillehay and the arts in Ada. A hot chocolate bar and refreshments will be provided, also free of charge, courtesy of Overhead Door of Ada.


Contact Carl Lewis at (580) 310-7520, or by email at clewis@theadanews.com

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Carl Lewis is a general assignment reporter for The Ada News. He's an aspiring photographer, an unabashed fan of Apple products and an avid coffee swiller. Contact Carl at (580) 310-7520, or by email at clewis@theadanews.com.