Leila Tolbert passed away peacefully on February 15, 2022 surrounded by loved ones at her home in Peachtree City, Georgia. Leila was born on June 22, 1932 in Greensboro, GA to John Lawrence Tolbert and Libby Wagnon Tolbert. She had three siblings: Joseph Pittman Tolbert, Gloria Tolbert Norton, and Daniel Byron Tolbert. She adored and looked up to her older brother Joe and loved and cared for her younger sister Gloria and much younger brother Danny.
Leila was a born teacher, beginning with herself. When she was very little, she taught herself to play the piano and became quite an accomplished pianist. Later, at the ripe age of 11, she taught herself to drive over country dirt roads. She wanted to drive so that she could attend play rehearsals and eventually starred as “Jo” in a school production of ‘Little Women.” Leila was an avid reader. She read and reread all the classics as well as enjoyed reading about current events, faith, history, philosophy and biographies.
Leila graduated from Greensboro High School in 1949 and LaGrange College, in 1953. There she met two lifelong friends, Babs Whitmire and Joanne Candeto, with whom she maintained a close friendship throughout her entire life. While in college, Leila greatly enjoyed taking the train home from Atlanta to Greensboro every Friday night, with her father, who worked in the city during the week. They had several hours alone together, and Leila treasured every one of them. Later, Leila also earned a Masters Degree in Education from Berry College sealing her lifelong commitment to teaching and helping others.
Over the course of her career Leila touched over three thousand students’ lives in Georgia and North Carolina. She taught middle and high school English, as well as occasionally other subjects, and so much more. She taught important life lessons like compassion, mutual respect, manners, and discipline — going way above and beyond the classroom. She genuinely loved her students, and they loved her back. She retired in Conyers, GA where many of her now adult students came back to visit. People would come up to her in restaurants and stores and still more wrote to her telling her what a positive impact she made on their lives.
In Conyers during her retirement, Leila enjoyed gardening, ballroom dancing, playing piano, walking and reading. She later moved to Roswell for several years and finally to Peachtree City, to be closer to family. Leila was always curious and always open minded, enjoying engaging others in lively discussions about politics, faith, current events and UFOs. Leila always wanted to hear and learn about others’ life experiences whether they be Georgia born natives, immigrants or international visitors. She loved learning about topics she knew nothing about. Leila always wanted to explore why people did what they did. She loved hearing people’s unvarnished opinion even when it was completely different than her own.
Leila was a good listener and a true and loyal friend. She continued to make new friends almost to the day she died. Leila was lovingly cared for in the last year of her life by the most caring, generous and gracious Luisa Castro, who became one of Leila’s closest friends and dearest confidants. Leila’s family will remain eternally grateful for Luisa’s love and friendship.
Leila’s surviving family members include her two daughters, Loretta (Rick) Grover Gilbert, and Monica (Terry) Grover Pearman; her sister, Gloria Norton (Dan), grandchildren Jordan Gilbert Andrews (Allen), Elizabeth Pearman Silva (Cleudes), Matt Pearman, Ben Pearman (Erika) and Rebekah Pearman, great grandchildren Daniel and Jonathan Silva and loving nephews Barry (Gerry Carolan), John Norton (Michelle) and Joseph Tolbert (Jessica) and loving nieces, Catherine Norton, Leanne Norton Long (Larry), and Casey Tolbert Smith (Mike). She also leaves to cherish her memory great nieces and nephews Connor, Ciara and Cormac Carolan-Tolbert, Julianna, Katie and Lauren Long, Aidan and Sawyer Smith, Libby and Lilah Tolbert, a great great nephew Kai Carolan, and cousins Helen Tolbert and Richard Tolbert.
Leila’s ashes will be interred at Siloam Cemetery with her parents and her beloved brother Danny. 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.
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