You are blessed if you have had one special teacher whom you remember fondly; who made learning fun, made you feel special, and made a difference in your intellectual life. For thousands of students passing through the Port Washington schools, AJ Gober was that teacher. When news of his passing on Feb. 13 appeared on Facebook, the tributes began immediately. Some of the examples follow:
“Mr. Gober’s English class was one of the few I looked forward to in high school.”
“He christened each of his students with a nickname on the first day of class and it would stick the rest of their high school career. I was, ‘St. Bernhard,’ which was eventually shortened to ‘The Saint.’”
“He made an unforgettable fashion statement with matching headband, track suit and sneakers. Monday was purple, Wednesday, red, Friday a lovely green.”
“He was a true gentleman, a great teacher who always put a smile on everyone’s face. His nicknames are forever a part of me.”
“He was one of the few teachers that understood what being a teenager in school was all about.”
AJ taught English in the 7th-12th grades during his 42-year teaching career.
He energetically shared his deep love of literature and of communicating clearly and creatively with the students. He encouraged students to write well and speak with authority. Students recalled the enthusiasm and passion he brought to the classroom. “Made me love learning,” and “Best teacher I ever had,” are other Facebook entries.
AJ grew up in Great Neck where he played football, ran track and boxed while attending Great Neck High school. He attended Bucknell University, where he won the campus light heavy weight boxing title as a freshman and graduated from Hofstra University, earning a Masters Degree at C.W. Post College.
He was a Communications Specialist in the Army at Fort Knox in KY. His teaching career began in 1959 when he left the military. Sports remained important to AJ throughout his entire life.
While teaching, he also coached an AAU Women’s Basketball team from 1965-1972. The Chuckles were East Coast champions for seven years and went to the Nationals in New Mexico and Iowa each year.
He was part of a Monday night men’s basketball game in Port Washington for over 30 years. He announced wrestling matches at Schreiber High School and basketball games at Manhasset High School, even after his retirement.
AJ is survived by his three sons: Matthew Gober of Richmond, CA; CJ Gober (and Holly Vetrone Gober) of Port Washington; and JJ Gober (and Lindsay Nadel) of Fort Lauderdale, FL; three grandchildren Cal, Molly and Mina; his brother Lenny; and nephews Scott (and Daniella) and Brett (and Katerina) of Westchester, NY.