PEMBROKE — Despite having no formal education, Gus and Josephine Locklear made higher education attainable for their 11 children through hard work and lifelong sacrifices.
“Dad never learned to write his name, but he and my mother mortgaged the farm seven times to send their children to school,” said Eddie Mac Locklear. “They always told us there are two things we can’t give you — education and religion — but we make them available.”
Locklear maximized his UNC Pembroke education, enjoying a career in education spanning nearly 40 years. To pay it forward, the 86-year-old recently gifted $25,000 to the university to establish the Lockwood Locklear and Gary Wayne Locklear Memorial Endowed Scholarship in memory of his late brothers.
The student-athlete scholarship will be awarded to a men’s basketball player, combining the Locklear brothers’ love for the university and their lifelong support of its athletics programs.
UNCP recently held a signing ceremony in the English Jones Center. In attendance were Gary’s wife, Panthia, and their children, Garrick and Autumn; Lockwood’s wife, Polly, and their daughter, Gerri. Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings, Athletic Director Dick Christy and Head Men’s Coach Drew Richards were among the university leaders present.
“My brothers earned many accolades throughout their life and made substantial contributions to the community, so I wanted to do something to honor them and acknowledge their affinity for UNC Pembroke,” Eddie Mac Locklear said.
“I’m not sure what my family and I would have done without Pembroke State. We couldn’t afford to go to any other school back in those days.”
A skilled carpenter, Lock retired after 18 years at UNCP. His younger brother Gary was a proud alumnus, played on the basketball team in the mid-60s, and later became a big supporter of the hoops program. Gary was well known in the community for his mission ministry with the United Methodist Church and would give campus tours to individuals visiting from other countries.
“UNCP is the center of the community, so anytime we have visitors, we make sure to take them by the campus because we are proud of the university,” said Locklear, who lives in Pembroke.
Raised in the Moss Neck community, Eddie Mac Locklear was born at home in 1935. After earning a history degree from Pembroke State College in 1958, he moved to Maryland to teach school.
“I wanted to experience everything I had been reading about. I spent many weekends in Washington, D.C., visiting the Jefferson Memorial and the Gettysburg National Military Park.”
Locklear returned home and taught in the county school system before accepting a counseling position with Robeson Community College. He would later serve as assistant to the president. In retirement, Locklear volunteered many years at the hospitals in Robeson and Scotland counties and local nursing homes.
His philanthropic efforts dates back to the days the late Dr. English Jones occupied the chancellor’s office.
“I was the treasurer for the alumni association and a founding member of the Braves Club. I began supporting the (Givens) performing arts center in the 70s and 80s. I’ve had an affiliation with UNCP for many, many years.”
In 2018, he was presented with the Braves Club Member of the Year award.
During the signing ceremony, Athletic Director Dick Christy commended Locklear and his family for consistently stepping forward to support UNCP athletics.
“There is no one in the Braves Club or anyone associated with athletics that, in my opinion, gives a higher percentage of their income to the Braves Club in support of our programs. Eddie Mac is truly one of the most generous human beings I’ve ever met. He is always making us first and helping our student-athletes and our next generation,” Christy said.
Gary Wayne Locklear (center) with Jim Gane and Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings.