Johnny L. Tolbert

Johnny L. Tolbert (Fraternity chef, Alpha Kappa Sigma; Honorary member, Bowdoin Alumni Association) died on December 12, 2016, in Brunswick, Maine.

(The following was published in The Time Record from Dec. 20, 2016:)

Johnny Lee Tolbert, Sr. 90, died Monday, December 12, 2016 at Mid Coast Hospital, in Brunswick, Maine after a courageous battle with Alzheimer. He was born September 13, 1926, to John Henry “Jim” and Mary (Reeder) Tolbert in Anderson, South Carolina. When he was two years old, his mother and younger brother, Charles Tolbert, died and he was raised by his great aunt. Johnny attended local schools before enlisting into the United States Navy in 1943. In 1947, while stationed in Corpus Christi, Texas and met and married Jimmie Lee (Moore) Tolbert his life-long partner of 69 years. He was a trained chef and spent 23 years of active military duty in service to others. While in the military, he was deployed to several bases along the Atlantic seaboard from Virginia to Maine and on the aircraft carrier, USS Roosevelt, as well as several bases overseas. He served his country during World War II and the Korean War and was on active duty during the Vietnam War. He retired in November, 1966.

Johnny and his wife remained in Brunswick, Maine and raised their family on Justamere, Rd where they continued to reside for the next 60 years. After retiring from the military he worked full time for two years at the Holiday Inn as part of the Chef ’s staff and would continue to work there part-time on and off over the next 25 years. In 1968 he was hired by Bowdoin College as the chef for the Alpha Kappa Sigma fraternity house and held that position for 20 years until retiring in 1988. During his time at Bowdoin, he was known for his culinary skills. In particular, it was during these special events (homecoming, reunions and graduation celebrations) where he would single handedly put together elaborate feasts. He formed many lifelong friendships with the students that passed through the fraternity. One student in particular that stands out is Richard Schuberth. The mutual bond and close relationship that existed was as close as father and son and lasted for 42 years until John passed. After retiring from Bowdoin, he worked for LL Bean in Freeport for six years in the return department. During the summers he worked at the Portland Yacht Club in Falmouth, Maine, the Upward Bound program in Brunswick, Maine and in partnership with his wife, they ran a catering business.

He and Jimmie have been members of Maine Street Baptist Church for almost 25 years. He gave of his time generously to help others and maintained the sprawling grounds of the church property until his health began to fail. He was known for serving up a tasty breakfast at the Men’s Breakfast meetings. In his spare time, he enjoyed fishing, hunting, golfing, camping and boating. He loved listening to music, dancing and taking long road trips with Jimmie Lee. Most of all he loved spending time with his wife, family and the many friends they made over the years during his time in the military.

Mr. Tolbert was preceded in death by his parents and step-mother Allie May (Hunter) Tolbert of Anderson, South Carolina, and son, Anthony Tolbert of Brunswick, Maine. Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Jimmie Lee Tolbert of Brunswick, Maine; four children and their (spouses): Jackie Tabor (Willie) of California, Johnny L. Tolbert Jr. (Esther) of Washington state, Derek Tolbert (Monica) of North Carolina and Lindy Fisker (Jon) of Arizona; eight grandchildren: Montella Alston, Shiri Mitchell, Clarence Mitchell, Jr., Andre Lewis, Neenah Tolbert, Shelly Tolbert, Johnny L. Tolbert III, Lauren McKenna and Micah Tolbert; seven great grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren; brother James L Tolbert (Carolyn) of Washington, DC, daughter-in-law Melinda Ford and many relatives in South Carolina and Texas and adopted family members Victoria (Howard) and Schubie (Pat) and Quiana Tabor.

He will be remembered by many nicknames, but the best one being “J.L.” that Jimmie has affectionately called him for many many years. To his grand kids he was simply and fondly known as granddaddy, grandpa and d-daddy.