Shirley Laughlin was at ATP’s first Yuletide Affaire in the O’Shaughnessy in 2004. She
had moved recently from Chautauqua, NY to Whitefish to be with her son and his family.
Having seen Yuletide Affaire I, she got tickets for ATP’s first season, which included “My Fair
Lady.” She was excited to find in Whitefish the kind theatre with which she had grown up in
Shirley’s love of theatre was born when she was six years old in Pittsburgh, and her
mother began taking her to a children’s theatre there. “My mother thought that I should see the
shows,” Shirley muses. She said that she thinks that watching theatre makes the written page
more realistic and interesting to children. As she grew older, she naturally gravitated to
legitimate theatre and has been a patron ever since.
She graduated from Allegheny College, a liberal arts school in Meadville, PA, after
which she married and lived in Carmel, CA, where her two sons were born and spent their
childhoods. At 37 years of age, Shirley lost her husband in an accident and returned to
Titusville, PA. Always a community person, Shirley thought that people in Titusville needed
something to do in the winter time. So she hatched a plan for an activity. She had heard of a
cooking coach who taught classes in Chautauqua, NY. Shirley invited her to hold cooking
school periodically in Titusville. Shirley suggested that the coach drive from her home in
Chautauqua, stay at Shirley’s house, and Shirley would be her assistant in the cooking classes.
A friendship was born, and the two women brought an early “cooking show” to
Titusville. Years later, the coach, Elaine Laughlin, contracted cancer from which she didn’t
recover. Before she passed away, she extracted a pledge from her husband that he would “Call
Shirley.” He did and the two ultimately married and lived in Chautauqua and then Westfield,
NY. When she was again widowed, Shirley made the move to Whitefish.
She has been an ATP donor ever since that first Yuletide performance. She loves the
shows and has enjoyed watching the Morrison Walrath twins grow up.