2018-01-26 / Front Page

The city’s right-hand woman will continue as a queen

By Cathy Cobbs


Libby Gober(l) with two of her sister queens: Traci Broom and Isa Mandell, all dressed in casual Kudzu Queen attire. 
Photo courtesy of Isa Mandell Libby Gober(l) with two of her sister queens: Traci Broom and Isa Mandell, all dressed in casual Kudzu Queen attire. Photo courtesy of Isa Mandell Libby Gober has worn many hats during her 19-year-tenure with the City of Columbia, but less than seven days from now she will be embracing a completely different role —retiree.

Gober is leaving her job as executive assistant to Columbia’s City Council to do, in her own words, “absolutely nothing.”

“It has been my pleasure to serve in this capacity; I need to take some time to chill,” she said. “I’m old school, and this city has grown so much, and times are changing. It’s time for me to go. I’ve done a lot of things I needed to do, and now it’s time for me to do the fun stuff I want to do.”

Gober, a USC graduate, started working in the city’s community development department, then moved onto economic development.

Libby Gober was recognized at the January 16 Columbia City Council. This was her last council meeting before her retirement.Photo by Josh Cruse Libby Gober was recognized at the January 16 Columbia City Council. This was her last council meeting before her retirement.
Photo by Josh Cruse
She briefly left Columbia for a stint in Chattanooga, Tennessee, then returned six years later in 1998 to join council member-turned city manager, the late Leona Plaugh, as her assistant.

That role morphed into her current job as executive assistant to the entire council, which involves working with the council and overseeing the process of administering the city’s hospitality tax dollars to various organizations. It’s one of Gober’s favorite jobs.

“In the course of a year, I interact with more than 100 non-profits, and many of them have become dear friends of mine,” Gober said. “That has been a wonderful part of this job.”

Friend and former council member Anne Sinclair, who served from 1988 to 2008, said Gober “is the go-to person when it comes to non-profits in the city.


Libby Gober has loved Five Points since her time as a USC student. Her Five Points memories include her favorite event, St. Pats in Five Points. Gober is one of the famous Kudzu Queens. 
Photo courtesyof Five Points Association Libby Gober has loved Five Points since her time as a USC student. Her Five Points memories include her favorite event, St. Pats in Five Points. Gober is one of the famous Kudzu Queens. Photo courtesyof Five Points Association “She has been a champion for the arts community and for nonprofits, and they have depended very heavily on her guidance,” Sinclair said. “She has touched a lot of people and really grown her position to be something very special in the community.”

Gober also said she will miss the close interaction with the members of the city council.

“I’ve so enjoyed working with and getting to know the city council members and their families,” she said. “That has been a very special part of this job.”

Gober, who said she has embraced Columbia as her home, said she is not planning to leave her city anytime soon, and in fact, has several projects she is contemplating.

“I am a member of the Kudzu Queens, and I’m not giving that up,” she said. “I’ve also been asked to be the Fire Commissioner for the city of Irmo, and I will be installed February 8.”

As far as life after “nothing,” Gober is considering offers made by several friends in the non- profit sector to assist them in various ways. She also wants to travel to Tennessee, visit her beloved casinos, and enjoy quality time with her husband, who has been retired for about nine years.

Before all that will unfold, Gober will be honored for her service at a retirement party Thursday, January 25 just one last hurrah before she takes off all of her hats and retires to her Irmoarea home.

“I’m really looking forward to it all,” she said. “It’s been a good ride.”

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