ELKINS, W.Va. – The people in the city of Elkins celebrated the life of their biggest fan Thursday evening at Wimer Stadium.
The memory and celebration of John Zirbs closing out the storied history of the home of the Tigers’ football program.
John Zirbs, who was better known as the Elkins Superfan, passed away last week at the age of 63.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone in the city of Elkins whose life he hasn’t touched in one way or another. That’s why it took a football stadium to hold the number of people who came out to celebrate his life Thursday evening.
Generations of band members that he helped lead in spirit performed at midfield. Generations of Elkins citizens who grew up seeing John at every Tigers sporting event came to celebrate his life.
In attendance was his sister, Carol Ann Murphy, who spoke about John — the Superfan — and why he meant so much to Elkins, and Elkins to him.
“John believed in this community when people wouldn’t believe in Elkins. He believed. The persona of Mr. Elkins, the persona of Mr. Forest Festival, they are a child-like projection of John,” said Murphy. “Everyone here tonight knew John. They know Superfan. I mean the little grandchildren, great grandchildren, of friends know John, and that speaks volumes.”
In being there Thursday evening, it was great talking to people and seeing how much the Superfan meant to practically everyone in Elkins.
It’s something that Carol said gave her comfort, as she lives in South Carolina, but she knew John had an entire city looking after him.
And as you can tell, John didn’t just impact members of a certain generation, it was everyone in Elkins — no matter how young or old.
“John was always here with us every Friday night, obviously. Home or away, he always made the trip. He always brought his stuffed tigers. He’d always tell us about his collection,” said Elkins center and defensive end, Tyler Bonetti. “He was here for us no matter what. He’d show up at practice and cheer us on, always boost our self esteem.”
“John was, and is, one of the great sons of Elkins. The community loved him, they embraced him, because he loved and embraced the community,” said Seth Blake, the Band Director at Elkins High School. “I think, really, the turnout that we had tonight was indicative of what he meant to everybody here.”
Thursday night was certainly the proper send off, not only for John, but for Wimer Stadium as a whole.
A couple people there said it Thursday, that Coach Wimer and John probably had the best seat in the house for it.
John “Superfan” Zirbs. Celebrated after 63 years of Elkins fandom.