A graveside service was held Monday in Bishopville, S.C., for Anne Welsh, 69, the wife of longtime Thomson football coach Luther Welsh.
Anne Welsh died July 7 in an Augusta hospital, where she was being treated for cancer.
Thomson's football community was quick to praise Anne Welsh for her support of her husband and her affection for the community.
About 300 people gathered Sunday at First United Methodist Church of Thomson. Luther Welsh was released from an Augusta hospital that morning.
"I see tears. I see somber faces," said the Rev. Bernard Grant. He urged mourners to remember the good times. "She was a woman of God and she loved Jesus Christ," Grant said. "She never had a give-up moment."
"Every day was a championship game for Miss Anne Welsh," Grant said. "She loved being the first lady of Thomson football."
"Do not remember her in pain," said the Rev. John Barnes, First Methodist's pastor. "I saw her in hard times. She's not like that anymore.
"I want you to remember she was Luther's biggest fan."
Monday's service was held outside Mount Zion Presbyterian Church, near the Welshes' farm.
"He's got a lot of family and friends over there, and it was an outstanding church service," said Paul Leroy, a longtime friend and a former Thomson football coach.
"And then we went by his farm and people brought food and everything."
Luther Welsh, who also suffers from cancer, was due back at a hospital for a treatment Tuesday morning, Leroy said.
Leroy and his wife, Mary Lou, said they became friends with the Welshes after the Leroys moved back to Thomson.
"One of a coach's greatest assets is his wife," Paul Leroy said. "And she certainly supported him as long as he wanted to coach."
"If you wanted to get her dander up you would say something about those boys. She couldn't stand for the fans to get on those kids or those coaches, either. She was very protective.
"What folks don't realize is the number of people they helped that had nothing to do with athletics. They helped young mothers with diapers and milk and stuff, and a lot of people never knew a thing about that."
"I'm surely gonna miss her," Mary Lou Leroy said. "She was such a dear person. I'm just heartbroken."
"She was a fighter and she was always so funny," she said. "She just kept me in stitches."
She said she met Anne Welsh when the Leroys moved back to Thomson in 2000. "And since my husband coached and Luther was a coach, we just had that in common. We could empathize with each other. We just always had a lot to talk about."
Thomson athletics backer Ralph Starling said Anne Welsh supported everything her husband did. "She loved all those players, all those coaches, and their wives," he said. "She was the epitome of what a good woman is and a good wife is. The coach didn't have to do anything but coach and cut the grass. Everything else Miss Anne took care of."
Thomson High School Athletic Boosters President Richard Downs said Anne Welsh sometimes agreed with the fans' assessment of Luther Welsh's preference for the running game. "She used to come to all our booster club meetings," Downs said, "and she would get on Coach because he wouldn't pass."
Luther Welsh retired as football coach and athletic director after the 2010 season.