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Clear skies. Low near 40F. Winds ESE at 5 to 10 mph.
Updated: September 28, 2022 @ 9:35 pm
Sara Mathews was a beloved musician, poet, actor and singer in St. Joseph. She died at age 29 on Aug. 10.
Sara Mathews, right, poses for a picture with friend Patrick Hall. Mathews died at age 29 on Aug. 10.
Sara Mathews, center, sings with friend Patrick Hall, right, in RRT’s production of ‘Rent’ in 2012.

Sara Mathews was a beloved musician, poet, actor and singer in St. Joseph. She died at age 29 on Aug. 10.
Sara Mathews, right, poses for a picture with friend Patrick Hall. Mathews died at age 29 on Aug. 10.
Sara Mathews, center, sings with friend Patrick Hall, right, in RRT’s production of ‘Rent’ in 2012.
Sara Mathews knew how to light up a room.
Whether it was her constantly changing fluorescent hair, stylish outfit and shoes or bright smile, she had an immediate effect on her environment.
“Her middle name was Golden and that’s the best way to explain her. She was just (full of) love and just everything she did was so big and over the top,” said Patrick Hall, one of Mathews’ friends.
A musician, actor in Robidoux Resident Theatre and Creative Arts Productions and award-winning poet, Mathews unexpectedly died at the age of 29. Her accolades in that short amount of time included competing in Missouri Verses and Voices, where she won the First Lady Award and 2011 the Poet Laureate Award. She also was a finalist in the “St. Joe’s Got Talent” competition in 2013.
In the wake of her passing, her friends and family are left remembering her legacy in the area.
“She packed a lot of living in 29 years in and I hope at some point down the line, the St. Joseph community gets to understand that she made an impact. She brought this artistic beauty and gave her all to so many things,” said Dr. Krista Kiger, former pastor at First Presbyterian Church, where Mathews attended and sang in the choir.
Mathews was born to be a musician. Her father, Dr. Mike Mathews, is a professor emeritus of music at Missouri Western State University and composer of its alma mater. Julie Mathews, her mother, is a trombone player.
“We always said she was a rebel because we were low brass players and she was a flute player,” Julie said laughing.
While Mathews’ hair and clothing suggested a rebellious spirit, her actions showed a person who deeply loved everyone that she was around.
“She was very much into recognizing people for who they saw themselves as and letting them know that they were accepted and loved,” Hall said.
While Mathews’ loud style was a defining part of her personality, it was also something that people bullied her for when she was younger. Hall said she never forgot how low some people made her feel, but she took the hate she received and turned it into love for others.
“She wouldn’t let somebody else feel the way that she had felt or was made to feel by other people,” he said.
When it came to dealing with her emotions, Mathews often would turn to music to work through them. In a 2012 interview with Josephine Magazine, she said she picked up the ukelele after a rough split with a partner.
“I think it was subconscious therapy,” Mathews said. “It lets me focus on (playing) instead of what other people were thinking.”
Mathews also used her musical talent to inspire others. She acted in RRT musicals like “Avenue Q” and CAP’s production of “Oliver!” In 2012, she landed her dream role in RRT’s production of “Rent.” It was a musical that friends and family said connected with her deeply.
“I think she connected to both the the joy and the sorrow that is ‘Rent.’ I think she understood that in her own life, there was that joy and sorrow and that’s why she loved the song ‘No Day But Today,’” Kiger said.
Hall said “Rent” was where he first met Mathews and saw what a thoughtful, creative person she was. At the end of the production, he said she wrote an autobiographical story about the experience that blew him away.
“It was so beautifully written, I just cried,” he said. “It was amazing how she never forgot things that you would just forget in this story. She had remembered all of it, even the little bitty things.”
Julie said Sara had a knack for making others feel appreciated and special. As part of the First Presbyterian Church choir, she would try and make everyone feel like they were her friend.
“One lady, she was talking the other day and she was in tears and she said, ‘The last time I saw Sara at First Presbyterian, she wanted to take a selfie with me.’ And she was just so surprised that a young person would want to do that,” she said.
Since Sara’s death, Julie’s been hearing a lot of stories about Sara’s kindness and generosity. While her friends and family are reeling from her loss, it’s a refreshing salve, knowing that her loving nature is being carried on through others.
“She was colorful, loud and talented and a good friend. I’ve been hearing that over and over and over. It’s one thing for your mom to brag on you. But when all these other people that don’t even know me are saying the same things, it means more. Everybody was proud of her,” Julie said.
Andrew Gaug can be reached at andrew.gaug@newspressnow.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @NPNOWGaug
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