Mrs. Janie R. Toomer was an industrious, thrifty, woman of enduring and unwavering faith in God. She loved her family, friends and community, and was especially proud to be a member of the historic First Bryan Baptist Church.
When I first met her, I was 24 years old, she was in her early forties, and her daughter LaVonne was just a teenager. She was a beautiful, kindhearted person, who was full of energy and took great pride in her independence. She was self-confident and believed that she could take care of herself in every situation. She was calm, courageous, caring and competent. Throughout her life, she did good, and not evil.
Mrs. Toomer was the widow of Carver State Bank founder and first President, Louis B. Toomer. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Savannah State College, (now a university) and was known throughout the community for her keen business acumen, economic prudence and friendly demeanor. She endured numerous challenges to become a successful real estate practitioner. She was the first African American female in the Savannah area to become a Licensed Real Estate Broker. She established Janie R. Toomer Real Estate, a successful business that she managed until her death.
Mrs. Toomer took great pride in helping others and became the mentor for several individuals who aspired to careers in real estate, several of whom have achieved tremendous success.
I would often joke about how much material she had accumulated in the office of her real estate business that appeared to me to be unnecessary, but that was not her total life. Her life was structured, orderly and organized. She had the important things in the right places and in the right order. She had her God and her church. She had her family and friends, and she had the joy that came from her work life. I used to say; “Mrs. Toomer, why are you working so hard,” and she would just smile and ignore me, because what looked like “work” to me, and many other people from the outside, was not really “work” to her. She enjoyed her life.
Elected to the Board of Directors of Carver State Bank during 1961, Mrs. Toomer continued to serve until her death on May 24, 2012. She took great pride in the Carver’s prominence as one of the oldest African- American-owned banks in America and frequently used her resourcefulness to help the bank maintain its position as an independent and successful African- American-owned institution.
Over the past 41 years, we experienced many changes at Carver, and there have been numerous changes in the banking industry. Some of these included technological developments, new laws and regulations, and the impact of economic shifts. Through all of these changes, Mrs. Toomer was steadfast, consistent, peaceful and calm. She was never a disruptive force. If we had a problem to work through, she was always careful not to add to the problem. During her tenure as a director, Carver State Bank soared because she helped keep peace. Mrs. Toomer had a strength, wisdom and selfconfidence that could only come from her enduring and unwavering faith in God
All of us at Carver thank God for allowing us the opportunity to know and work with Mrs. Janie R. Toomer, a virtuous, industrious, thrifty, woman of enduring and unwavering faith. She will certainly be missed.