Anne L. Boyer, 77, of Cornwall, passed away on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. The average person diagnosed with pancreatic cancer lives for about one year after diagnosis. However, Anne was no average person, and she kept fighting for two and a half years, proving you can take the runner out of the marathon, but you can’t take the marathon out of the runner. Anne had zero quit in her, and she ran out the clock!
Anne was born on June 4, 1946, in Northampton, PA.
As a pastor’s kid, Anne moved around a lot. Her family finally settled in Leola, PA, where she lived with her parents, Elwood and Anna Heisler, her two big brothers, Gordon and Ken, and her little sister, Carol. Anne quickly began amassing her fan base. Her many lifelong friends are a testament to her ability to connect with others. She attended Conestoga Valley High School, where she earned the Junior Varsity Award in field hockey in 1963. In 1964, she left PA for the greener pastures, or rather the horse-filled pastures of Eastern Kentucky University, where she played field hockey, volleyball, and basketball.
She returned to PA to start her vocation as a physical education teacher and coach at Cedar Crest High School in 1969. In 1975, Anne discovered her sporting passion when she began running competitively. A day didn’t pass without Anne lacing on her sneakers and getting in a five- to 20-mile run. She attributed running to not only maintaining her physical fitness but also nurturing her mental strength.
Throughout her almost five decades of service to the Cornwall-Lebanon School District, Anne left an indelible impact on countless lives with her quiet yet ever-present support and kindness. A former co-worker fondly recalled, “She was so kind to me during my first year at CCHS when I did not know anyone.” A former student echoed this sentiment, declaring, “Mrs. Boyer was an icon at CCHS!”
At a time when women’s sports and female coaches were a rarity, Anne, along with her friend turned coaching partner, Chris Horst, ignored the critics who questioned whether women were qualified to coach boys. “I had worked with boys a little before as a club coach, but I’d never coached them at the high school level,” Anne said as she explained what hurdles she faced founding the cross-country program at CCHS. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but once we got started, I didn’t have any problems. They followed the rules I set up.” Her coaching record speaks for itself, with a 269-136 record as the boys’ coach and a 244-128 record coaching the girls’ team. In recognition of her coaching record, she was inducted into the Lebanon Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 2003. Her influence extended into the classroom. Anne was recognized by the Lebanon County Educational Honor Society in 1993, 1995, 1997, and 2000 and inducted as a lifelong member in 2004.
Though Anne was proud of her accomplishments, when she talked about her life, she didn’t mention her awards, recognitions, or barrier-breaking; she talked about the students she loved and the fun they had together. The support she provided to her students was reciprocated, and her influence continued to expand her devoted following. “During 10th grade, I had to choose between playing field hockey or giving XC a try. Thanks to some strong women (Coaches Boyer, Snyder, McMinn, and Horst) who knew better than I did, they guided me to make a decision that changed my life,” shared former runner Wendy Nelson Barret. “She always supported me. She was badass way before it became something to be.”
After so many years of sharing a workplace, the people who began as colleagues evolved into family. As Kelly Snyder, daughter of fellow physical education teacher Helene Snyder, attested, “When a woman teaches physical education (if you know, you know) and coaches with your Mom for 40+ years, that woman is like a second mom. Anne, thank you for being such a special and supportive part of my entire life!”
In her scarce free time, Anne became a certified scuba diver, worked as a lifeguard, biked 4,200 miles across the country, and was recognized as “one of Pennsylvania’s top athletes” by the State Senate. She attended Quentin United Church of Christ and enjoyed travel. She proudly checked off all 50 states, as well as many countries within Europe. She skied, played pickleball, and was active in book club and coffee klatch. Her enthusiasm for Penn State Football was rivaled only by her support for her grandchildren and their various activities.
Close family friend Michael Ruhl probably said it best when he shared that Anne “meant so much to so many of us. Hers was a kind soul but a fierce spirit, and she lived that every day!”
Anne was lucky to have two great loves in her life. She was preceded in death by her first husband, Robert Boyer, who passed away in 1991, and her second husband, W. Harrison LaRosa, who passed away in 2019. She is survived by her son, Michael Boyer (Elisebeth); stepdaughters, Krissy Marks (Doug) and Robyn Cox (Eli); grandchildren, Sylas, Madeleine, Liam, Kaiya, Ellenore, Toma, and Hayes; her brother, Gordon Heisler (Louise); and her sister, Carol Heisler.
She was preceded in death by her brother, Ken Heisler.
A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, at 4:30 p.m. at Quentin United Church of Christ, 11 E. Main St., Quentin.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Women’s Sports Foundation, www.womenssportsfoundation.org.