WEST PITTSTON — As Kelly Clarke’s National Anthem rang through the speakers, a stray tear ran out of George Taggart’s left eye. Standing on the field, Taggart did everything to keep himself composed.
He was shedding a tear for one of Wyoming Area’s own. A mom. A wife. A mentor. A volunteer.
Anne Gober’s memory lived through a crowded Anthony “Jake” Sobeski Stadium Monday night. The crowd was there to support the family of Anne: Husband Joe and children Julie, Grace, Abigail and Justin Thomas. Anne was killed in an accident this past July.
The Wyoming Area Field Hockey Parents Association and the Wyoming Area Kiwanis Club teamed up to present the Anne’s Angels fundraiser during Senior Night against Abington Heights. Proceeds from the fundraiser will go directly to the Gober Children Educational Fund, which was established by the family in lieu of other donations.
“Anne was beyond a friend,” Taggart said. “Her smile would light up a room even if you weren’t there. This is such a tight-knit community.”
Taggart is not affiliated with the Wyoming Area field hockey team in any way.
“I’m just a friend,” he said.
When the final buzzer sounded throughout West Pittston, it was the Warriors who would reign supreme against the Comets on the field. Prior to the game, however, everyone was family.
The Abington Heights field hockey team held a coin drop this past weekend to help raise funds for the foundation. They presented Joe and Grace with that and flowers when Senior Night was finished. The Warriors turned in another impressive performance with a 7-0 win over the Comets.
Bree Bednarski finished with four goals and Grace Gober added an assist.
Grace, who plans on playing field hockey at Temple, said her team was there for her every step of the way following the accident.
“It means the world to me,” she said. “A lot of people don’t imagine something like that happening. To have friends, family and people all over the valley – I can’t say more about them. It’s amazing.”
The fundraiser featured a Chinese Auction, Anne’s Angels T-shirts, wristbands with Anne’s initials, a bake sale and donated food available at the Kiwanis stand. All items for the auction, along with the food and drinks, were donated by the community with all the proceeds going to the Gober family.
Blessed and loved
When Anne’s husband was approached about having the fundraiser on Senior Night he was taken aback, he said. He wanted to make sure it wasn’t just about him and his family, but the other senior players and parents.
“I’m not always one to look for help,” he said. “I would rather go out and help other people. To see how the community came together has been overwhelming. I feel blessed and loved.”
Leandra Hosey, a member of the field hockey parents organization, along with Kiwanis member Tiffany Callaio, spearheaded the event. Hosey noted what a beautiful day it was, despite the chilly temperatures.
“She would not allow it to rain,” Hosey said. “It definitely makes your heart feel good. This is just part of the healing process.”
After three months of grieving, Hosey feels like this is a good step to move in the right direction.
“It’s nice to see the community is still remembering and came out to support the kids,” she said. “The camaraderie of the community is fantastic. The sun is shining even though it was cold and that’s how Anne was. Her smile was always shining.”
Many of the field hockey parents echo the same words when talking about the Gober family and the Wyoming Area senior class. They’ve been playing field hockey for many years together and having something like the passing of a family member brought the team closer together.
Christine Mattioli’s daughter, Megan, is a senior.
“The kids all came together as a group,” she said. “To see that, it just makes your heart warm. These kids are like a family. They’ve been playing together since grade school.”
Anne was killed on July 21 in an accident in Susquehanna County. She died of multiple traumatic injuries after her vehicle collided with the vehicle of Michael Argust of Montrose. State police said Argust, 22, was high on opiates when his SUV struck Gober’s pickup.
Throughout her time in the Wyoming Area School District, Gober was a volunteer for several different organizations. She was secretary of the Wyoming Area Softball Parents Association and was involved with the Wyoming Area Field Hockey Parents Association and the Wyoming-West Wyoming Little League, and she volunteered with many other organizations.
Originally from Friendsville near Montrose, Gober was employed at Montrose Auto Parts. She graduated from Montrose Area High School in 1987 and, later, Luzerne County Community College and Wilkes University.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick.