Hundreds gather in Goodland to remember life of Stan Gober - PHOTOS

David Albers/Staff
- Stan Gober's casket is carried out of Stan's Idle Hour Restaurant by his grandchildren at the conclusion of a memorial service for the Goodland icon on Sunday, June 23, 2012.

Photo by DAVID ALBERS // Buy this photo

David Albers/Staff - Stan Gober's casket is carried out of Stan's Idle Hour Restaurant by his grandchildren at the conclusion of a memorial service for the Goodland icon on Sunday, June 23, 2012.

GOODLAND — Of the hundreds of stories told at his memorial service Sunday, no single tale can adequately sum up the life of Stan Gober.

But this one comes close.

Joe Voss often traveled for his job, which left his wife, Judy, home alone on Marco Island.

So a few times a week, Judy went to Stan's Idle Hour Restaurant on Goodland. She got to know Stan. Became a regular. Felt at home.

Jason Easterly/Special to the Daily News
Stan Gober talks with patrons about the Princess Buzzard Lope contest during the 28th Annual Goodland Mullet Festival held at Stan's and Sons Idle Hour Seafood Restaurant on Saturday in Goodland.

Photo by JASON EASTERLY // Buy this photo

Jason Easterly/Special to the Daily News Stan Gober talks with patrons about the Princess Buzzard Lope contest during the 28th Annual Goodland Mullet Festival held at Stan's and Sons Idle Hour Seafood Restaurant on Saturday in Goodland.

In January, at age 63, Judy died. Joe wanted to host a memorial for her, so he called up Stan and asked if he could use the restaurant. Stan said yes. Joe said to expect 40, maybe 50 people.

Three hundred people showed up. Yet Stan took it in stride. He never complained.

He just helped a friend.

"He's always had a big heart," Joe Voss said. "Stan's always been here for us."

Six days after he died of congestive heart failure at age 86, Stan Gober was laid to rest Sunday. The eccentric Goodland icon went out with flair, as hundreds of people gathered at his restaurant, a crew as eclectic as the man himself.

The mourners wore T-shirts, flip-flops, shorts, sundresses, bandannas. They listened to Stan's famous, perhaps infamous, "Buzzard Lope" song on loop. They walked past Stan in his casket, dressed in an American flag shirt, his trademark hat atop his head.

They laughed, cried and swapped Stan stories, remembering a father, a businessman, a patriot, a philanthropist, a friend. It was equal parts memorial and celebration — exactly what Stan requested.

"I'll never forget this day," said Steve Gober, one of Stan's three sons. "This is what he would have wanted."

By now, Stan's story has become Southwest Florida lore. He first came to Goodland in 1958, then permanently moved there from Miami in 1969. He bought a motel, then the restaurant, then started the Mullet Festival in 1985. His Sunday afternoon shows soon became renowned, filled with unorthodox songs, goofy dances and the same crass jokes.

The restaurant and show attracted hundreds, inviting locals and tourists. For some, the Sunday routine became appointment viewing. For others, like Sandy Sida, it was a first stop when visitors came to town.

"People share tables, everyone sits with everyone, and it's just fun," Sida said. "I've heard young people describe it as 'spring break for old people,' and that's exactly what it is."

Behind all of it was Stan. He'd sit down with strangers and regulars alike, instantly establishing connections. His friends ranged from the townies to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, who frequents Marco Island.

"It didn't matter if you were a millionaire, pauper or anything in between. You were always welcome here," said Charles Jones, who met Rosemary Strong at Stan's 70th birthday party in 1996. They shared a piece of cake and have been together ever since.

Mourners marveled Sunday at how Stan's restaurant stayed true to its island feel decade after decade. It's why Bobby and Dot Woodall, Tennessee transplants living in south Fort Myers, have made the 60-mile drive to Goodland each Sunday for 23 years.

"It hasn't changed a bit," Dot Woodall said. "He might have put down a couple planks of wood, but that's it."

Stan used his local fame to advance charitable work, helping raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer causes, needy children, Avow Hospice and countless other organizations. His love of children became legendary. He even cleaned up his off-color jokes in the presence of youngsters.

"He wanted a successful business, but that was just one part of him," said his son, Jay Gober. "He just loved people of all walks."

Beyond his public persona, Stan was a dedicated family man, doting on his four children and 11 grandchildren. Depending on the time of year, eight to 10 family members still work at the restaurant, which will stay open after his death.

"I'll miss most of all the private times with the man, him making me a better man," Steve Gober said. "That's why I'm running the business today. He taught me that it doesn't matter if you're a construction worker or a president, you treat everybody the same."

At about 2 p.m. Sunday, Stan's grandchildren, all wearing black T-shirts bearing his name, carried his casket out of the restaurant and loaded it into a hearse, bound for Marco Island Cemetery. A rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In" played in the background.

As the hearse idled and the song ended, a silence fell over the crowd. Then, a gentleman stood up on a table. He shouted, "Can we all sing 'God Bless America' for Stan?"

They all sang, and Stan was driven away.

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 20

milo writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

airboatboy writes:

in response to milo:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Obviously, you did not know Stan and probably were never there. I can't say what I want to, and you are too ignorant to comprehend anyway.

CaptKidd writes:

Rest in Peace Stan, you were a great man.

myrealname writes:

R.I.P. Stan. Glad to have know you.

greathornedlizard writes:

RIP Stan.

Too bad Speaker of the House Boehner didn't show, I hear he's a HUGE fan of the Buzzard Queen..I guess former and future Speaker of the House Pelosi doesn't have enough meat on her bones..or is that boehnes?

Anyway, "when two vowels go walkin', the first one does the talkin'!"

Stan would have got a chuckle..

just_makin_it writes:

RIP Stan! I know you're having a good time up there with all the friends and family that went before you. Say hi to My late husband Allen, and his uncle Mike, I know that you're all partying together, just like you did at Stan's Idle Hour. Party on friend, you will be missed!

just_makin_it writes:

Just hope Stan's sons n grandsons keep the place going in his name. I couldn't see Goodland without Stan's Idle Time there forever. Good times!

just_makin_it writes:

in response to milo:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You seriously didn't know Stan, or Goodland. Let the man Rest in Peace, Please!

PeaceandLove writes:

I'm so sad to see Stan leave this world :(....he did SO much good for SO many, you just don't find people like him every day. I met Stan through doing volunteer work for the Wishing Well and he was always such a sweet man and so willing to help us out for a very worthwhile cause. I will miss that twinkle in his eye and yes, even his jokes. He is a true American and a gentleman. Rest in peace Stan, you'll be missed.

joeybaccala writes:

in response to vinnybombotz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Great point!!
But Vinny, seriously, whay aren't you going to be debating tomorrow night?

rasputin writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

just_makin_it writes:

in response to rasputin:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Tool, don't u recognize an American Flag when you see one?
Again, RIP Stan, you will be sorely missed!

RayPray writes:

in response to just_makin_it:

Tool, don't u recognize an American Flag when you see one?
Again, RIP Stan, you will be sorely missed!

"don't u recognize an American Flag when you see one?"

One way to be deemed an outstanduing patriot is for you or your robust sons to join the military face the enemies of our nation in combat.

However, a much more convenient way is to forget all this sacrifice and dangerous stuff and, instead, incessantly and endlessly for years wrap yourself up in the flag and toot your horn.

As a bonus, this second path to jingoism lets you pocket million$ from purveying greasy food and overpriced hats & t-shirts.

alel1#252662 writes:

Stan will always be remembered by our family who like many others knew what a great guy he was and always will be remembered.... He did so much for all of us. The Idol Hour and "STANS" will live on forever. God bless American and Stan and Family. The Gizzi Family

AssyMcGee writes:

RayPray......Stan is an US Navy WWII veteran.

Martha_Simons writes:

Anchors away Stan.

Thanks for your service to our country and for the fun times in Goodland.

cerise writes:

in response to RayPray:

"don't u recognize an American Flag when you see one?"

One way to be deemed an outstanduing patriot is for you or your robust sons to join the military face the enemies of our nation in combat.

However, a much more convenient way is to forget all this sacrifice and dangerous stuff and, instead, incessantly and endlessly for years wrap yourself up in the flag and toot your horn.

As a bonus, this second path to jingoism lets you pocket million$ from purveying greasy food and overpriced hats & t-shirts.

You obviously did not know this man. I knew and worked for him for years. He never 'tooted' his own horn and was so in love with his country, his Lord and his family. He also loved his neighbor, believed in and practiced the Golden Rule. You should keep your very ignorant comments to yourself.

cerise writes:

Also, RayPray, I ate there on MANY occassions. I DO NOT like greasy food and I have found plenty of items on the menu that were not greasy. When was the last time, if ever, that YOU ate there? Have you ever been there for dinner in the evening? They have a fine dining menu with some very succulent, gourmet dishes to eat. And another thing: The Island Woman" sells all of "Stan's" t-shirts and other clothing and souvenirs. They are a seperate business from "Stan's". Granted, during the height of season, just like most other touristy spots prices are at a premium, and just like other places, the prices go down as the season winds down. If you live here and want to acquire a Stan's t-shirt, try visiting during off-season when prices are very discounted. As with anyplace, some more popular styles and sizes may be gone, but there are so many there, you should be able to pick up a "Stan's" shirt to fit any budget. Plus, all of their shirts are made from the highest quality cotton, not some cotton-poly blend, itchy, cheap material. Again, you really should make sure your thoughts are educated ones before you put them here.

Max_Headroom writes:

I'm pleased that he didn't pass during season, otherwise this site would be slammed with foolish snowbirds crying in their Metamucile.

martinm_1 writes:

RIP STAN,YOU WILL BE MISSED,HAD ALOT OF FUN AT YOUR PLACE.

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