IN 1983 when our Barnesville held its 175th Birthday Jubilee, Mayor Elizabeth Tolbert of Barnesville, Maryland, came here to cut the ribbon to begin the celebration. She died at the age of 88 on February 17, 2014, and her unique life and outstanding accomplishments were chronicled in a half-page obituary in the February 23rd Washington Post. We had hoped to reprint this account, but The Post said it would cost $100, so we’ll just try to recall what we’ve known of her since meeting her 31 years ago and some facts from her death notice.
Lib Tolbert was the fifth generation to live in her family home in Barnesville. Her father was a farmer and Lib “fought with wit and pluck to keep Barnesville an oasis of small town quiet in the hurly-burly of the state’s most populous county.”
AFTER HER marriage to Air Force Colonel Samuel Harold Tolbert, and accompanying him to assignments in Europe and all over the United States and having four children, she returned to Barnesville where she served more than three decades as mayor.
ACTIVE IN politics on county, state and national levels, she was described as silver haired, stately, and with a gravely voice. She was “a force to be reckoned with.”
She served as president of The Maryland Municipal League; was a Clinton delegate to the Democrat National Convention; she was invited twice to the White House, once declining an invitation to stay for dinner with President Reagan and Mother Teresa because she had to get home to pick peas.
From the Enterprise we reprint the following:
“Elizabeth Tolbert, Mayor of Barnesville, Ohio’s sister town, Barnesville, Maryland, was on hand to help officially open this community’s 175th Birthday Jubilee celebration. Mayor Tolbert cut the ribbon to launch the 175th anniversary of the founding of Barnesville, Ohio, in 1808. She read congratulatory greetings from the Town Commission of Barnesville, Maryland. She also presented proclamations from the Governor of Maryland and the Legislature of that state.
Also taking part in the ceremony were Mayor Allen Phillips, Rev. Dr. Richard Eshler of the Presbyterian Church; and Richard Steele, Chamber of Commerce president. Dignitaries introduced included David Colston, general chairman; former County Commissioner, State Senator, U.S. Representative Wayne Hays; and various village and county officials.”
In later years, the Wilkins family, including Mildred, Rebecca, and Jean and Charles Smith and I visited Lib at her welcoming home and “quaint little oasis from the hurly-burly of the state’s most populous county.”
jeanealities is compiled by Jean Palmer Davies, lifetime Barnesville associate. She may be reached at email@example.com.