Joseph Pitman “Joe” Tolbert, 83, of the Liberty Community in Greene County died Monday, May 10, 2010. A native of Greene County, he was born on September 26, 1926, and was the son of the late Lawrence Tolbert and Libby Wagnon Tolbert. Joe graduated from Greensboro High School in 1943 and attended college at the University of Georgia until his education was interrupted by his enlistment in the United States Army. He very proudly and honorably served his country in the Philippines in World War II. After the conclusion of the war he worked for a short stint at Sears, where he met his wife Betty, and then reenlisted in the Army. He retired from the Army in 1968 after serving as a food inspector and veterinary assistant in Tokyo, Japan, Fort Wainwright, Alaska and Atlanta, Georgia. Joe then began a second career with the Georgia Department of Agriculture; he retired in 1987 and moved fulltime to the home he and Betty built in White Plains. Joe was an active participant at Liberty Methodist Church where he taught Sunday school for 25 years. He often cheerfully lamented that his fellow parishioners remembered him more for being the provider of the fish for the annual fish fry than for anything he taught them in Sunday school. His family is confident that the manner in which Joe led his life for 83 years was the most powerful and enduring lesson he could impart to any observer.
Joe loved his family quietly but immensely. For many years he and Betty enjoyed hosting each of their extended families for a summer fish fry at their home. He was a man of great determination and inner strength. When he set his mind to do something, he persevered no matter the obstacles nor how long it took to accomplish his objective. Betty and Joe enjoyed a traditional marriage; she was responsible for the inside and he for the outside. After Betty’s death, Joe learned to cook and operate the washing machine-no easy feat at the age of 75. He didn’t mind the cooking he said, but he despised the washing up. He often commented in recent years that he regretted not paying closer attention to what Betty was doing in the kitchen for 50 years.
Joe was a lifelong and passionate fisherman. He also loved to talk about fishing and to tinker with his rods, reels and worms. Joe’s favorite fishing pal was his beloved son Barry. They spent their happiest hours together on Lake Oconee doing nothing but fishing and enjoying each other’s company. They may be the only fishermen on the lake that fished so often that they actually caught the same fish two years in a row.
Joe was predeceased by his cherished wife of 52 years, Betty and his baby brother Danny. He leaves to cherish his memory his loyal and loving son and best friend Barry and wife Geraldine and his three grandchildren Connor, Ciara and Cormac; his beloved sisters Leila Tolbert and Gloria Norton and her husband Dan, sister in law Katherine (Billie) Harr, brother in law Calvin Fitzpatrick and his wife Susie as well as nieces and nephews Paul Harr, Gail Harr Heath, Loretta Gilbert, Monica Pearman, Catherine Norton, John Norton, Leanne Norton Long, Joseph Tolbert, Casey Tolbert Smith, Walter Fitzpatrick and a host of cousins, great nieces and great nephews.
The family sends special thanks and appreciation to Joe’s Liberty Church family, especially his thoughtful and devoted friends Don and Mickey Skinner, his friend from first grade, Jack Merritt and his wife Montine, the compassionate people at Willow Run Retirement Home, his faithful friend and housekeeper Esther Champion, Dr. Cheves and his caring staff, and the dedicated professionals at MCG ICU- Bo, Stewart, and Mindy and all the doctors who cared for him so compassionately in his final illness.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. at Liberty United Methodist Church with Rev. Edward Swehla and Rev. David Jordan officiating. Burial will follow in the Penfield Cemetery with full military honors. Serving as pallbearers are John Norton, Charlie Berry, Bob Hixon, Bob Mathews, Joe Tolbert and Paul Harr. Flowers are welcomed or in the alternative memorials may be made in Joe’s name to Liberty United Methodist Church, c/o Ann Smith, 2491 Shiloh Road, Greensboro, GA 30642 or Penfield Baptist Church, 3881 Nichols Road, Union Point, GA 30669. The family will receive friends from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday night at McCommons Funeral Home. McCommons Funeral Home, 109 W. Broad St., Greensboro, GA, (706) 453-2626, is in charge of arrangements. Visit us at www.mccommonsfuneralhome.com to sign the online guest register.