No one knows whom Mahoning Valley resident Marie Bobesch will root for today.
AUSTINTOWN -- While many Mahoning Valley residents are gathering in sports bars and living rooms today to watch the Eagles and Patriots battle it out, Marie Bobesch will be watching the Super Bowl in a loge with NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
The 83-year-old Austintown resident left Wednesday for a busy weekend in the South, but, according to her daughter-in-law Nancy Bobesch, she's plenty busy when she's at home, too. She reared her three children -- Paula of Atlanta and Raymond and Randall of Canfield -- and was widowed seven years ago. Now, she travels quite a bit.
Marie appears to have been a sports enthusiast all her life. She works out at the Ursuline Mother House three days a week, swims almost every day and has been known to try her hand at golf and bowling, Nancy said. In her 50s and 60s, she dabbled in skiing. As a youngster, she was such a good baseball player, boys in her Austintown neighborhood really wanted her on their team, Nancy said.
With a grandson now playing high school football, the pigskin seems to have drawn "Oma's" interest in recent years.
"She's a free spirit and knows more about football than most men I know," Nancy said.
Music also occupies much of Marie's time. She sings with the Concordia Choir of the Saxon Club in Austintown and with that group performs every year at First Night in Canfield.
The road to Jacksonville
In an interview Tuesday night -- after choir practice, of course -- Marie laid out her Super Bowl schedule. On Wednesday she was to fly to Atlanta to meet her daughter and from there they would drive to Jacksonville, Fla., site of the game, for a busy four days.
"I don't know if I'll have time to talk," she said as she listed all the activities ahead, which included attending "Paul's speech," which is how she referred to Tagliabue's annual State of the NFL address.
The Bobesches and Tagliabues developed a friendship over several years as neighbors in Maine where the Bobesches have a summer home. So this year, Tagliabue invited Marie and Paula to come join the football festivities.
Big parties were in the plans, but first on Marie's agenda was painting. Marie is well known among friends and family for her beautiful watercolors, but this weekend she had a bigger brush in her hand.
At 8 a.m. Friday, she and other friends of the Tagliabues' began painting homes in Jacksonville for Habitat for Humanity, a charity in which Tagliabue and his wife are active.
Marie met Paul McCartney at lunch. But the group didn't take much of a breather; she went back to painting that afternoon.
The Saturday schedule included more house painting, a luncheon, a visit to the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy and a dinner.
Marie said she wasn't sure whether she'd participate in Sunday's tailgating plans but she would be in the loge ready to cheer at game time.
"She's a really verbal fan," Nancy said with a big smile. "But [Randall] advised her that she will be sitting in a neutral zone with the commissioner, so she'd better hold back."
She took serious note of that advice, so no one is certain for whom she will cheer. The Bobesches are historically Browns fans and were also friends with Al Lerner, the late owner of the Cleveland team. It's possible, Nancy concedes, that with her ties to Maine, Marie is rooting for the Patriots today.
"And she could cheer in German so no one will know," Nancy said.
Marie is expected still to be going strong when she attends an after-game dinner party at 10 p.m.